Costa Mesa man pleads guilty to felony charges in fatal hit-and-run DUI on 55 Freeway in 2018

The 55 Freeway in Costa Mesa
Bernardo Alvarez Zalpa, 51, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, among other felony charges, nearly two years after a fatal DUI accident on the 55 Freeway in Costa Mesa.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

A Costa Mesa man was sentenced to six years and four months in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to multiple felony charges stemming from a DUI accident on the 55 Freeway nearly two years ago that killed a 48-year-old man from Orange, according to court records.

Bernardo Alvarez Zalpa, 51, appeared at the West Justice Center in Westminster Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit and run with permanent serious injury and driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, among other felony charges.

Zalpa also admitted to sentencing enhancements for fleeing the scene and inflicting great bodily injury. He has been ordered to pay an undetermined amount of restitution, according to court records.

The charges stem from a Dec. 4, 2018 incident during which a Honda Accord Zalpa was driving in the fast lane on the 55 Freeway, southbound just north of Del Mar Avenue in Costa Mesa, crossed all lanes of traffic and collided with a Mini Cooper in the No. 4 lane shortly after 6 p.m., California Highway Patrol officers reported.

A telephone vendor found to have recorded thousands of calls between Orange County inmates and their attorneys may have continued to record confidential calls even after the company said it was no longer doing so, according to a motion filed by Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders.

Zalpa continued traveling and soon after struck a Toyota 4Runner on the Del Mar Avenue offramp. That vehicle overturned, ejecting the driver, Jose Olguin, 48, of Orange. CHP reported Olguin was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision.

After the second collision, the Accord turned back into the general traffic lanes and continued south on the 55 before exiting at Victoria Street. Costa Mesa police officers later located and arrested Zalpa.

Olguin was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Mini Cooper was reportedly uninjured.

A judge Tuesday sentenced Zalpa to 16 months in state prison for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, adding five consecutive years to his sentence for fleeing the scene. The separate charges for DUI and inflicting great bodily harm will not extend the six-year, four-month sentence handed down Tuesday, the Orange County district attorney’s office confirmed Wednesday.

Court records show Zalpa is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 1 for a firearms relinquishment hearing at the West Justice Center.

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.