Police on Wednesday announced the arrest of a 22-year-old woman on suspicion of driving while impaired and causing a crash in Newport Beach that killed a Santa Ana couple and left their three young daughters hospitalized.

Grace Elizabeth Coleman of Newport Beach, who has a prior conviction for driving under the influence, was booked on suspicion of murder, DUI causing bodily injury and hit-and-run resulting in death, according to Heather Rangel, a spokeswoman for the Newport Beach Police Department.

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.

Orange County sheriff’s Sgt. Dennis Breckner identified the victims of Tuesday night’s crash 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 hospitalized in critical condition.

Coleman was also hospitalized, but the extent of her injuries was unclear.

The crash occurred at 7:46 p.m. Tuesday at Newport Coast Drive and Pelican Hills Road South. Coleman was behind the wheel of a black Range Rover that was southbound on Newport Coast Drive when the SUV collided with victims’ Nissan Versa as Saldana was turning onto Pelican Hills Road, Rangel said, noting that the three children were riding in the back seat of the sedan. She said Coleman “possibly” ran a red light.

Saldana-Mejia and his wife were pronounced dead at the scene.

Family members said he had been on his way to pick up his last paycheck at The Resort at Pelican Hill, where he had recently been working in housekeeping.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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