Separate vehicle collisions into apartment, tree in Costa Mesa cause fatality, injuries

Two drivers were hospitalized after a crash at the intersection of Costa Mesa's Placentia Avenue and Center Street.
Two drivers were hospitalized Saturday after a car traveling on Center Street in Costa Mesa failed to yield to a Mercedes SUV on Placentia Avenue, causing the vehicle to crash into an apartment building. One tenant was displaced.
(Costa Mesa Police Department)

Costa Mesa police are investigating two separate collisions on Saturday and Monday that caused two drivers to be hospitalized, displaced a tenant from his apartment and led to the death of a third driver.

The first incident took place Saturday near the intersection of Placentia Avenue and Center Street shortly before 1:30 p.m., when the driver of a white Honda traveling westbound on Center failed to yield the right of way to a black Mercedes-Benz SUV going south on Placenta, according to Costa Mesa Department spokeswoman Roxi Fyad.

The Honda broadsided the other vehicle, causing it to lose control and crash into an apartment building on the southwest corner of the intersection. The occupant of the apartment was at home when the crash occurred but was not seriously injured, police reported.


Both drivers were hospitalized and treated for non life-threatening injuries. Costa Mesa Mesa Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Chris Coates said the driver of the Mercedes, described as a man in his 40s, experienced moderate trauma and was taken to a nearby trauma center.

The apartment tenant was temporarily displaced by the structural damage caused by the impact.

“Urban Search and Rescue responded and provided shoring and boarding up of the apartment, so that it could remain intact until they could get a licensed contractor out there to assess the damage,” Coates said Monday.

CMPD’s Traffic Safety Bureau responded to the scene and shut down all southbound traffic on Placentia Avenue at West 19th Street to process the scene of the collision, which is under investigation.

A second, more serious crash occurred Monday morning, just before 6:30 a.m. at the juncture of Harbor Boulevard and Princeton Drive, where one male driver died after crashing his vehicle into a median tree, Fyad confirmed.

A black sedan with a single occupant is believed to have been traveling southbound on Harbor, when it struck a tree at the end of a median.

The driver of the vehicle died from the impact. Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Matthew Parrish confirmed Thursday the coroner’s office had identified the victim as Andrew Joseph Pionke, 30, of Bellflower.

Fyad said family members traveled to the scene of the collision. It is thought the man may have had some kind of medical condition but further details were not immediately available Monday afternoon.

Accident investigators were called to the scene, and Harbor Boulevard was closed down to just one lane in either direction, reopening by around 11 a.m., according to police.


3:14 p.m. April 24, 2024: This story was updated to include the identity of the driver who died in Monday’s crash, provided by the county coroner’s office.