Driver who died in solo-vehicle crash, fire in Costa Mesa ID’d

A sheriff's deputy at the scene of a fatal collision that took place early Friday on Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa.
A sheriff’s deputy at the scene of a fatal collision and vehicle fire that took place early Friday on Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa. The driver was identified as 70-year-old Deborah Jean Holmes.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Orange County coroner’s officials have confirmed the identity of a driver who was killed early Friday morning in a fiery solo-vehicle crash still being investigated by Costa Mesa police, determining she died from blunt force torso trauma.

The woman — identified as 70-year-old Deborah Jean Holmes — is believed to have been living in her vehicle when the incident occurred at 5:21 a.m. Friday morning, according to sheriff’s department spokesman Sgt. Scott Steinle.

“She was in an SUV that hit the median a couple of times before going into a drainage ditch when it hit the wall,” he said, indicating the impact caused the car to become engulfed in flames.

Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Chris Coates said Friday crews dispatched to the scene worked to extinguish the blaze before discovering the vehicle’s occupant was already deceased. However, it does not appear from the results of an autopsy performed Tuesday the fire was the cause of Holmes’ death.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are being reviewed by a special team of investigators who review major accidents and collisions. CMPD spokeswoman Roxi Fyad said Tuesday she could not share any details regarding that work, as the investigation was still underway.

Officials were unable to determine an address or city of residence for Holmes. Records maintained by the Orange County Superior Court show a Deborah Jean Holmes had incurred multiple misdemeanors and infractions in the last several years.

One incident of misdemeanor illegal camping in 2015 was ultimately dismissed the following year, just one month after Holmes pleaded not guilty. A defendant by the same name was also recently arrested on suspicion of battery and disturbing the peace, stemming from a June 20 incident.

The district attorney’s office filed misdemeanor charges on Sept. 21, days before Friday’s fatal crash.

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