O.C. man drives off cliff; boys survive

Times Staff Writer

A man hospitalized after driving an SUV containing his girlfriend’s two young boys down a 65-foot embankment near Lake Forest will be charged with attempted murder and child endangerment, authorities said Tuesday.

Rolando Maldonado, 41, of Santa Ana allegedly drove his Ford Explorer off the cliff on Santiago Canyon Road near Falcon Street after arguing with the children’s mother Monday.

The boys -- one 7 years old and the other about 20 months old -- were treated for minor injuries and released, said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

“We believe he intentionally drove that vehicle over the cliff and attempted to kill both the kids,” Amormino said.


The incident occurred about 2:30 p.m. Monday after the children’s 22-year-old mother, whose name was not released, tried to end a relationship with Maldonado at the home they had shared for the last four months in the 1300 block of West 3rd Street in Santa Ana.

Maldonado left, Amormino said, but returned a short time later and appeared to have calmed down. He then said he was going to the store and offered to take the older boy. Unbeknown to the mother, Amormino said, Maldonado also took the younger child.

After driving off the cliff, authorities said, Maldonado climbed back up to the road and waved down a passerby who called police. Investigators became suspicious after examining evidence at the scene conflicting with his description of the mishap as an accident.

The children, he said, have been returned to their mother.