A Santa Ana man was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and drunk driving Thursday after he lost control of his truck on a freeway ramp and it crashed, killing one passenger and injuring another, authorities said.
The three men, all shippers working for Toshiba Corp.'s Lake Forest office, had spent the evening eating and drinking at two restaurants before the Wednesday night accident, family members said.
Timothy David Elliott, 25, of Lake Forest was pronounced dead at the scene from massive injuries he received as he was thrown from the vehicle onto a Costa Mesa Freeway off-ramp at MacArthur Boulevard, California Highway Patrol Officer Angel Johnson said.
The driver of the four-wheel drive truck, Manuel Arreola, 23, of Santa Ana, was arrested at a local hospital, Johnson said.
“It (the accident) appears to be alcohol-related,” Johnson said.
Family members who gathered at Elliott’s Morning Star Road home Thursday remembered him as an avid softball player and jet skier who left behind a wife and three young sons. He lived at his parents’ house, only two miles from the Toshiba facility.
“He came home for lunch like always and played with the kids and saw his mom and dad,” Karen Elliott, Timothy Elliott’s sister, said.
On Wednesday, Timothy Elliott and two fellow shipping clerks decided to go out after work, first to a restaurant in Laguna Hills, then to another in Lake Forest, Karen Elliott said.
The group then headed north on the San Diego Freeway and onto the Costa Mesa Freeway. Arreola tried to exit at MacArthur Boulevard but was unable to negotiate the long, curving off-ramp, Johnson said.
Arreola then lost control. The truck sideswiped a guard rail and became airborne.
When the truck landed, it rolled over, shearing off part of the roof, and skidded to a stop. Elliott, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the truck and died on the pavement almost instantly.
Arreola and a third occupant, Donald Eugene Beasely, 38, of Santa Ana, who were not wearing seat belts, remained inside the badly damaged vehicle until they were rescued by emergency crews, Johnson said.
“If they were wearing seat belts, they may not even have been injured,” Johnson said. “This was not a small car. It’s a big truck.”
Arreola was airlifted to UCI Medical Center in Orange. He was transferred on Thursday to the jail ward at Western Medical Center-Anaheim, where he was listed in serious condition, Johnson said. He faces arraignment upon release from the hospital.
Beasely was taken to Western Medical Center-Santa Ana, where he was also listed in serious condition.