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Newport Beach woman is arrested after crash kills Santa Ana couple, injures 3 girls

Two people were killed in a collision near South Pelican Hill Road and Newport Coast Drive in Newport Beach on Tuesday.
A Santa Ana couple were killed in a collision near South Pelican Hill Road and Newport Coast Drive in Newport Beach on Tuesday.
(Kevin Chang / Times Community News)

A 22-year-old Newport Beach woman suspected of driving under the influence was arrested after a Santa Ana couple were killed and their three young children were injured in a crash Tuesday night in Newport Beach, authorities said.

Grace Elizabeth Coleman was arrested on suspicion of DUI, traffic homicide and hit-and-run resulting in death, Newport Beach Police Department spokeswoman Heather Rangel said. She faces five felony counts and charges against her include two counts of murder and two related to driving under the influence of alcohol, court records show. There is also a count for a hit-and-run collision.

For the record:

10:07 a.m. Dec. 11, 2020An earlier version of this article said Coleman had a prior conviction for driving under the influence. She was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Laguna Beach in August, the Orange County district attorney’s office said, but has not been convicted.

If convicted on all charges, Coleman could face 34 years and eight months in prison.

“Three young girls are orphans because of the selfish decision of a stranger,” Orange County District Atty. Todd Spitzer said in a release. “Everyone knows how dangerous drinking and driving or using drugs and driving is, and that it is a crime. Yet over and over again people choose to get behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs, and they are killing innocent people and destroying lives. This has to stop.”

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Newport Beach police responded to a call at 7:46 p.m. Tuesday of a crash near Newport Coast Drive and South Pelican Hill Road. Upon arrival, officers found a collision involving Coleman’s black Range Rover and a Nissan Versa, Rangel said.

A 27-year-old man and 28-year-old woman in the Nissan died at the scene, police said. Three children were in the backseat of the car.

Orange County sheriff’s Sgt. Dennis Breckner identified the victims as Henry Eduardo Saldana-Mejia, 27, and Gabriela M. Andrade, who would have turned 29 this month. KCBS-TV Channel 2 reported that the couple’s daughters, ages 1, 4 and 5, were hospitalized in critical condition.

Police say that Coleman exited her vehicle and walked away after the collision. Newport Beach officers were able to quickly locate her in the area and take her into custody, Rangel said.

The children and Coleman were taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries, police said.

Coleman was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Laguna Beach in August, according to Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Nguyen writes for Times Community News. City News Service contributed to this report.


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