Man killed in Coast Highway crash is identified

A man killed in a midday crash Sunday that closed North Coast Highway in Laguna Beach for hours has been identified as 29-year-old Erik Valencia.

Valencia, of Irvine, was “a passenger in an out-of-control auto versus truck traffic accident,” according to a statement from the Orange County coroner’s office.

Police and firefighters responded to reports of a head-on collision at 1:34 p.m. involving five vehicles along the four-lane highway at Irvine Cove Drive, according to a statement by the Laguna Beach Police Department.

Laguna Beach police Capt. Jason Kravetz told KNBC-TV that a driver was heading north on the highway when he crashed into another car in his lane. The driver then veered into southbound lanes and struck more cars.

The driver was taken to the hospital with serious injuries; his passenger was declared dead at the scene. Kravetz said four others were taken to the hospital with minor to severe injuries. Their identities have not been released.

Sgt. Eric Lee said that all lanes were expected to reopen by about 10 p.m. Sunday. The crash occurred near Crystal Cove State Park. 

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