A 24-year-old man, who was in critical condition after a traffic
accident on Memorial Day, died on Saturday.
Paul Awad was walking across the street on a marked crosswalk in
the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and Bonita Canyon Road at
about 9:25 p.m. on Memorial Day, when he was hit by a black Nissan
Altima driven by Dulce Itzamara Herrera, a 21-year-old Santa Ana
woman who worked as a housekeeper at the Four Seasons Hotel in
Newport Beach, police said.
Herrera fled the scene but turned herself in on June 7 after
Newport Beach police investigators tracked down her car and her
family in Santa Ana.
Awad had been in a coma since the accident and took a turn for the
worse last week, said his brother, Keith Awad.
"He suffered severe brain injuries," Keith Awad said. "And then
infection set in. Ever since he got hit, he has just been clinging on
to his life."
With the turn of events, police have not yet made a decision about
altering the charges, Newport Beach Police Lt. John Klein said.
"We're still investigating the accident," he said. "We still need
some questions answered. Once we have the complete picture, we'll be
making a decision about the nature of the charges."
Paul Awad's mother, Jeannie Awad-Morgan, said her family has
decided not to press charges against Herrera.
"There's no joy in taking two lives," she said. "Paul was young
and just starting out his life. So was she."
Awad-Morgan said she and her family "would leave it to the
authorities" and not worry about pursuing the prosecution.
The family held a press conference days after the incident seeking
the public's help to catch the hit-and-run driver. At least 100 of
Paul Awad's friends flocked to the police department to show their
support for the family. Paul Awad was a Corona del Mar High School
graduate and worked at Neiman Marcus in Fashion Island at the time of
his accident. He was also pursuing a career as a photographer.
Cara Mungo, one of his best friends, said she is "in shock." Her
fiance, James Jerome Snyder, died in a hit-and-run car crash on the
Costa Mesa Freeway about nine months ago.
"Paul had made a pact with Jerome that he was going to take care
of me," Mungo said. "But he too is gone now. I can't believe it. It's
confusing. It's hard to understand."
Mungo said goodbye to Paul Awad Saturday morning, hours before his
Keith Awad baptized his son in his brother's presence Saturday
morning, he said.
"Paul was his godfather," he said. "And we did it right there in
the hospital room with our family present."
Keith Awad called his brother "a selfless person who got his
thrills from helping other people."
"Paul would make everyone feel like they're his best friend," he
His mother said Paul was at a "positive point in his life."
"He was feeling good about himself and was excited about his
future," she said. "It's a tragedy for sure, and I'm going to miss
him terribly. But what a great way for him to go, when he was feeling
that happy and positive about himself."
Seeing so many of her son's friends over the last few days has
been enlightening, Awad-Morgan said.
"He was a tender, sensitive and caring young man," she said. "He
was a beautiful person."
Paul Awad is also survived by his father, Ed; brothers Mark, Eric
and Tim; and sister, Nicole.
A funeral mass is scheduled to be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday at
Our Lady Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Newport Beach.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to
Parent Help U.S.A. or Human Options.
* DEEPA BHARATH covers public safety and courts. She may be
reached at (949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.