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Head-On Crash Kills O.C. Official

Times Staff Writer

An Orange city councilman was killed Thursday when a wrong-way driver struck his car head-on in Orange Park Acres, officials said.

Steven Frank Ambriz, 35, died shortly after the 5:30 p.m. collision on Santiago Canyon Road near Windes Drive, about four miles from his home.

Ambriz was at the wheel of his Toyota Camry when a woman coming the other way in a pickup crossed the yellow-striped median and slammed into his car. Ambriz was airlifted to Western Medical Center-Santa Ana where he was pronounced dead.

The woman was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange and was in critical condition.

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She was placed under arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, according to Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, who said police told him of the arrest.

A native of Orange, Ambriz graduated from Orange High School in 1988 and Cal State Fullerton in 1994. After college, he worked for Orange, overseeing programs to correctly install child car seats.

He was chief of staff for Spitzer, then an Orange County supervisor, beginning in 1998, then was elected to the Orange City Council in 2002, becoming one of its youngest members.

Friends on Thursday remembered Ambriz as a tireless volunteer who urged others to get involved in community work. He volunteered for organizations including the Orange International Street Fair, the Boys and Girls Club and the Muscular Dystrophy Assn.

Spitzer said he attended a fundraiser for Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona’s reelection campaign with Ambriz on Saturday and said Ambriz had told him he was going to teach a CPR seminar in Anaheim the next day.

“He worked tirelessly to make sure children were safe,” Spitzer said.

“It’s a tragic irony because he made sure kids were safe in cars.”

Ambriz “left a legacy of community service that he’ll long be remembered for,” Orange Mayor Mark Murphy said.

“Aside from his family, his next top priority was causes, whether it was cancer or the senior center. He was a warm, caring guy.”

On the City Council, Ambriz focused on public safety issues. Recently, he had proposed improvements to city parks, Murphy said.

“He was not shy about the administrative work or rolling up his sleeves to roll out the chairs or clean up,” he said. “That’s how he lived his life.”

Ambriz is survived by his wife, Bridget, and their 3-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn.


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