Orange County Register editor killed in alleged street racing crash


A longtime editor for the Orange County Register was killed Thursday in what authorities believe was a street racing crash, according to the Register and Santa Ana police.

Police responded to the crash at about 11:45 a.m. at Bristol Street and Santa Clara Avenue, where a BMW slammed into Eugene Harbrecht’s Ford pickup as he was making a left turn.

The driver of the BMW and another vehicle were allegedly street racing on Bristol Street, police said. Witnesses said the pickup burst into flames and they tried helping Harbrecht, who was unconscious, out of the car.


“We knew it was intense after the first bang,” witness Guillermo Velazquez told KTLA News. “That’s when we were able to tell there was a vehicle rolling, because we heard the consistent impact.”

Harbrecht, 67, was pronounced dead at a hospital and the driver of the BMW was hospitalized. The second driver in the alleged street race fled the scene, but was later found in the neighborhood and taken into custody, Santa Ana police said.

According to the Orange County Register, Harbrecht was a Santa Ana resident who had worked for the newspaper since 1984. Most recently, he was the national and international news editor for the greater Southern California News Group.

“Gene was one of our best and wisest editors, a friend and colleague whose fierce intelligence and rigorous attention to detail made us all better,” Southern California News Group executive editor Frank Pine said in the Orange County Register. “He was passionate about journalism and carried out his work in service to our readers. We were lucky to have him among us and will miss him dearly.”

City News Service contributed to this report.