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Drunk-Driving Suspect Held After Early-Hour Crash Takes Two Lives

Times Staff Writer

Two roommates driving home from work Friday morning died after a collision with a car driven by a suspected drunk driver at the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Imperial Highway in La Habra, police said.

Aaron Meadows, 30, and Donald Probst, 28, were driving home to Norwalk after finishing work at NI Industries in Brea when they were killed in the three-car collision that left two other people injured, including a co-worker, Alma Rosa Castillo, 24, also of Norwalk, police said.

La Habra Police Investigator Jack Reese said officers came upon the accident at 2:45 a.m., a few minutes after it occurred.

Crash at Intersection

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Reese said Garrett Richard Hinmon, 30, of Fullerton, who was northbound on Beach Boulevard, first struck the Pinto Runabout containing Meadows and Probst, then Castillo’s Pinto station wagon, both traveling west on Imperial Highway. Castillo later told police that Hinmon drove through a red light, Reese said.

Reese said Hinmon continued across the intersection and hit the front wall of a Mobil service station, which was closed for the night.

All three cars were destroyed. Meadows was thrown about 25 feet from the car, Reese said, while Probst was trapped inside the car which, Reese said, was “wrapped around the central stoplight.”

Pam Luster, Orange County deputy coroner, said Probst, who was the passenger, died at the scene from suffocation because he was pinned in a position that didn’t allow him to breathe.

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Worked at NI Industries

Meadows, the driver, died about an hour later at La Habra Community Hospital of a broken neck, Luster said.

June Newman, Probst’s sister-in-law, said Probst and Meadows had been living with Probst’s stepsister for about three months. Probst was a set-up mechanic and a representative for the United Automobile Workers at NI Industries’ Brea plant, which manufactures automobile wheels. Meadows was a welder.

Probst is survived by his mother, Carolyn Kaciemba of Norwalk, and eight brothers and sisters. Information on Meadows’ survivors was not available.

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Hinmon, seriously injured, was airlifted to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. He was released for medical treatment and listed in stable condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Castillo, an inspector for NI Industries, was taken to Presbyterian Hospital in Whittier from which she was released after treatment for two sprains of the spine and bruises on the right arm and chin.

Found Them Unconscious

Castillo said she could not remember what happened after she and the two men began to cross the intersection.

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“I remember only when we made the light and we were together,” she said.

Castillo said that when she woke up she found the door to her car open and saw the driver who had hit them lying unconscious on the floor. She said she got out of the car and saw the vehicle of her co-workers.

“I tried to help (them) and I told them, ‘Wake up, wake up’ . . . but I couldn’t do anything for them,” she said.


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