On Wednesday, the police announced the arrest of a 22-year-old woman involved in a car crash that killed a Santa Ana couple. They suspected she had been driving while under the influence leading up to the crash. This incident unfortunately leaves the couple’s three young daughters without their parents.
Authorities identified the young suspect as Grace Elisabeth Coleman of Newport Beach who has a prior conviction for driving under the influence. The deadly crash occurred on Tuesday, December 8th at approximately 7:46 p.m. at Newport Coast Drive and Pelican Hills Road South. Coleman was behind the wheel of a black Range Rover traveling southbound on Newport Coast Drive when the SUV collided with the victim’s Nissan Versa. According to the criminal complaint, Coleman ran a red light immediately before colliding with the couple and their three children.
Unfortunately, the crash killed the couple instantly. Orange County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dennis Breckner identified the victims of this tragedy as Henry Eduardo Saldana-Mejia, 27 of Santa Ana, and Gabriela M. Andrade, who would have turned 29 later this month.
It was reported that the couple’s daughters – ages 1, 4, and 5 – were critically injured as a result of the crash. First responders transported them to a nearby hospital to receive necessary medical treatment.
Coleman was also hospitalized, but the extent of her injuries was unclear.
Facing the DUI Charges
After the events of the crash, a wounded Coleman tried to leave the scene of the crime on foot. The Newport Beach Police Department quickly found and arrested her before she could escape. They booked her on the following charges:
- Two counts of murder
- One count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury
- One count of hit and run resulting in a death
All the counts will be considered felony charges. She also faces three felony enhancements of great bodily injury for the injuries suffered by the three daughters. Under state law, a driver with a prior DUI conviction who is subsequently involved in a deadly DUI crash can be charged with second-degree murder, which carries a life sentence.
A judge revoked Coleman’s bail on Thursday during her arraignment. If convicted as charged, Coleman faces a maximum sentence of 34 years and eight months to life in state prison.
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