Newport Beach woman charged with murder in crash that left 2 dead, 3 children injured

A fatal car collision left damage on the side of South Pelican Hill Road.
A Santa Ana couple were killed in a collision Tuesday near South Pelican Hill Road and Newport Coast Drive at around 7:46 p.m.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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

Grace Elizabeth Coleman faces five felony counts from Tuesday’s incident. The charges 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.

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.”

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

The Orange County district attorney’s office announced Tuesday that Long Beach resident Richard Lavalle, convicted for DUI in 2013, faces one felony count of murder for a collision that killed Noel Bascon on Sunday.

Police said a 27-year-old man and 28-year-old woman in the Nissan died. Their three children — ages 1, 4 and 5 — were in the backseat of the car.

The Orange County coroner’s office identified the man and woman as Santa Ana residents Henry Saldana-Mejia and Gabriela Andrade.

Police allege that Coleman exited her vehicle and walked away following the collision. Newport Beach officers were able to quickly locate her within 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 had previously been arrested on suspicion of DUI in Laguna Beach in August, Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s office, said.

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