Trial starts for Valentine's Day fatal drunk-driving crash

Opening statements are expected Wednesday in the trial of a former Orange Coast College student accused of killing a 20-year-old woman in a drunk-driving collision.

Gustavo Adrian Vega, 23, of Costa Mesa, is suspected of driving drunk through a red light and crashing his 2008 Toyota Tundra into a 2003 Corolla at Sunflower Avenue and Flower Street early on Feb. 14, 2010, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Cara Lee, 20, a passenger in the Corolla who worked as a recreational youth leader for Newport Beach, was killed in the crash.

Vega is accused of fleeing on foot and hiding at a Costa Mesa apartment complex, where police officers caught him. He had a blood alcohol content of .17% — twice the legal limit, the release said.

Vega has a previous DUI conviction, according to a news release issued Tuesday. After pleading guilty Dec. 11, 2006, he signed a form acknowledging his guilt and that he could face murder charges if he killed anyone while driving under the influence, according to the release.

The release said Vega "also learned about the dangers of drinking and driving in alcohol awareness courses as a condition of his sentence."

Opening statements are expected to begin at 9 a.m. in Department C-42 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. If convicted, Vega faces a maximum of 19 years and eight months to life in state prison.

— Imran Vittachi

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