Pedestrian killed after being hit by multiple vehicles in Laguna Beach

A woman crossed the street outside of crosswalk and was struck by multiple southbound vehicles near Ruby's in Laguna Beach.
A woman crossed the street outside of a crosswalk and was struck by multiple vehicles in the southbound lanes near Ruby’s in Laguna Beach.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

A pedestrian was killed while attempting to cross South Coast Highway in south Laguna Beach on Sunday evening.

Police and fire personnel responded to the 30600 block of South Coast Highway at about 6 p.m. after a traffic collision was reported involving a pedestrian and multiple vehicles, according to a news release from the Laguna Beach Police Department.

Emergency personnel performed life-saving measures at the scene, authorities said. The woman was taken to a local hospital, where the medical staff pronounced her dead.

Willen Mari Alvarez, 32, of Mission Viejo was identified as the deceased, Sgt. Scott Steinle, a public information officer with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, said. Police said the woman was near Ruby’s at 30622 South Coast Hwy. and not within a crosswalk when she was struck by multiple vehicles traveling in the southbound lanes.

Laguna Beach Police Lt. Tim Kleiser said it was possible three vehicles struck Alvarez, based on an initial investigation.

Neither alcohol nor drugs appeared to be factors in the incident, police said. The drivers of the vehicles involved in the collision remained at the scene and cooperated with law enforcement. The cause of the collision was being investigated by the Laguna Beach Police Department’s traffic bureau.

“We are deeply saddened by yet another pedestrian fatality on Coast Highway, and we send our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased,” Mayor Bob Whalen said in a statement. “Coast Highway is owned and operated by Caltrans, and we will reach out to them to determine if they can implement additional safety improvements to make the roadway safer for pedestrians. We need to hold Caltrans accountable to find safety solutions to avoid more tragic accidents in our city.”

The incident shut down the southbound traffic lanes of South Coast Highway from Nyes Place to Montage Resort Drive until about 11 p.m. on Sunday.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call the Laguna Beach police at (949) 497-0701.

Kleiser added there have been two pedestrian deaths on Laguna Beach roadways in 2023, and there was one within the city limits last year.

“Unfortunately, both of the 2023 pedestrian fatalities on Coast Highway in Laguna Beach occurred outside of marked crosswalk areas and are results of individual behaviors,” Kleiser said. “Since Coast Highway is owned and operated by Caltrans, we will reach out to them to determine if any additional safety improvements are needed to make the roadway safer for pedestrians.

“Our officers continually conduct patrols and enforcement on the roadways in Laguna Beach to ensure they are safe for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. The two recent fatalities are a tragic reminder that each and every person using the roadways adhere to the laws, remain alert for hazards, and limit distractions.”

Traffic fatalities have dominated the headlines in Laguna Beach recently. Xueyuan Zhang, 39, was killed in the early morning hours on Saturday, Jan. 28 in another fatal traffic incident.

Then on Wednesday, Feb. 1, Michael John Mammone, a doctor at Providence Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach, was killed while riding his bike near the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Crown Valley Parkway in Dana Point. Vanroy Evan Smith, the driver of the vehicle that hit Mammone, reportedly then got out of his car and stabbed Mammone. Smith was arrested on suspicion of murder and pleaded not guilty in a courtroom Friday.

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4:39 p.m. Feb. 6, 2023: This story was updated with comments from Laguna Beach Police Lt. Tim Kleiser.

2:55 p.m. Feb. 6, 2023: This story was updated with the identity of the deceased.