Driver was drunk in PCH crash that killed 2

Times Staff Writers

The 24-year-old man suspected of causing the accident that killed film director Bob Clark and his son had a bloodalcohol level three times the legal limit, authorities said Thursday.

Hector Manuel Velazquez-Nava, a native of Mexico who federal authorities said was in the U.S. illegally, faces possible charges of vehicular manslaughter, driving without a license and driving under the influence of alcohol. He suffered minor injuries in the early Wednesday accident on Pacific Coast Highway and is being held at the Van Nuys Jail. Although bail has been set at $100,000, his undocumented status makes him ineligible for release on bond, police said.

Minutes after the director of “A Christmas Story” left his Pacific Palisades condo to drive his son Ariel, 22, home to Santa Monica, their southbound 1997 Infiniti sedan was struck head-on by the northbound 2007 GMC Yukon driven by Velazquez-Nava, said Los Angeles Police Det. Mike Fischer.

The high-speed collision left the mangled vehicles about 100 feet apart amid a long trail of debris, including parts of wheels, undercarriages and axles.


The passenger sides of both vehicles sustained the heaviest damage, indicating that Velazquez-Nava may have swerved toward the ocean and Clark the opposite way as they collided at high speed.

Police haven’t finished their investigation, Fischer said, but it appears the Yukon entered the southbound lane and Clark, 67, swerved left in an attempt to avoid the collision. The first of several calls to 911 came at 2:24 a.m., Fischer said. Paramedics arrived shortly after. The Clarks, who were pinned in the wreckage, were pronounced dead at 2:34 a.m. Fischer said he didn’t know whether the Clarks were wearing seat belts or whether their vehicle air bags had deployed.

Velazquez-Nava, who was wearing a seat belt, got out of the SUV and was walking around after the collision, Fischer said. His passenger, Lydia Mora, 29, of Azusa, was treated for minor injuries and released.

Velazquez-Nava had a blood alcohol level of 0.24 percent, three times the 0.08 legal limit for driving. There was no evidence the Clarks had been drinking, Fischer said.

Velazquez-Nava does not have documentation of legal U.S. residency, nor does he appear to have ever had a U.S. driver’s license, Fischer said. The Yukon was registered to Velazquez-Nava, who claimed to have insurance, but police haven’t been able to verify any, Fischer said.

Velazquez-Nava lives in Los Angeles, but little other information was available. He told authorities that he was on his way from Hollywood to West Covina when he crashed, although he was traveling in the opposite direction. Fischer said Velazquez-Nava was probably lost.

Law enforcement sources said Velazquez-Nava pleaded guilty in 2005 in Los Angeles to a prostitution-related charge and was sentenced to two years’ probation. He could face at least four to 10 years imprisonment if convicted of vehicular manslaughter.