Trial starts for former OCC student accused of fatal drunk driving crash

The trial for a Costa Mesa man accused of killing a passenger in another car in a drunk driving crash and fleeing the scene more than a year ago was set to begin Monday.

Gustavo Adrian Vega, 23, is charged with killing Cara Lee, 20, while driving drunk, according to a news release from the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors allege that Vega ran a red light at Sunflower Avenue and Flower Street at 2:28 a.m. Feb. 14, 2010, hitting a car that Lee rode in. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver sustained minor injuries.

After the crash, Vega allegedly ran to a nearby housing complex to hide out, but police found him there. He was allegedly found with a “useable” amount of cocaine in his pocket, the release said.

Lee, an only child, was pursuing a modeling career and attending college when she died. She was a recreational youth leader with the city of Newport Beach and had survived a battle with cancer at age 17, according to the news release.

Vega was a student at Orange Coast College at the time of the accident. If convicted, Vega faces up to 15 years to life in prison.

— Lauren Williams