Driver arrested following fatal hit-and-run collision that killed Newport Beach woman and her dog

Fatal hit-and-run collision Sunday in Newport Beach
A driver who allegedly struck and killed a 72-year-old woman and her dog Sunday morning in Newport Beach was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and driving under the influence.
(Daily Pilot)

A driver who allegedly struck and killed a 72-year-old woman and her dog out on a morning walk Sunday in Newport Beach was located hours later in Riverside and arrested on suspicion of a felony hit-and-run collision and driving under the influence.

CHP spokesman Officer Florentino Olivera said Ali Zohair Fakhreddine, 31, was driving southbound on Irvine Avenue at 6:34 a.m. Sunday when he approached a red light at Mesa Drive just as Newport Beach resident Cleusa M. Coffman entered the crosswalk with her dog.

“He ran a red light and struck the victim and her dog, then he fled the scene,” Olivera said Tuesday.

Both Coffman and her dog succumbed to their injuries and were pronounced dead by fire personnel on scene, according to a CHP incident report, while officers searched for the man’s vehicle, described as a silver 2014 Hyundai sedan.

At around 8:50 a.m. that same day, the Riverside Police Department received a call regarding a possible traffic collision at the intersection of Alessandro Boulevard and Via Vista Drive, according to Officer Ryan Railsback, a spokesman for the department.

“When officers arrived, they saw a silver sedan stopped in the lane with obvious collision damage,” Railsback said Tuesday. “The driver was passed out, apparently asleep at the wheel. When they knocked on the window, he woke up and took off.”

Shortly after that encounter, the suspect was located near another intersection. Officers on scene determined he may have been driving under the influence and took a closer look at the damage to the sedan, which was registered to a Riverside address.

“When they saw the vehicle more closely, it led them to believe he’d hit a pedestrian, based on the damage and a little blood they saw,” Railsback said.

The officers detained the man and searched for reports filed by other jurisdictions that fit the description of the vehicle. When they saw the report filed by the Orange County CHP office, they contacted authorities there, Railsback added.

Fakhreddine was taken into custody and booked into the Orange County Jail on DUI and felony hit-and-run charges, Olivera confirmed Tuesday.

The Santa Ana CHP station is asking anyone who may have more information about the incident, including Fakhreddine’s whereabouts leading up to the collision, to contact Officer John Patterson at (714) 567-6000.

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