5 hurt in wrong-way Coast Highway crash; driver arrested on suspicion of DUI


A 19-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after a wrong-way crash on Coast Highway near Crystal Cove Monday night flung two passengers from her vehicle and left five people injured, according to the CHP.

The woman was driving a 2004 Ford Explorer south near El Morro Elementary School about 9:10 p.m. when she swerved left into the northbound lanes for an unknown reason, according to the CHP.

The SUV swerved so far that it crossed Coast Highway’s opposite shoulder and ended up on a dirt embankment where it rolled over and came to a rest in a northbound lane, according to a CHP report.


Two 19-year-old passengers were ejected from the SUV and suffered major injuries, according to authorities; neither was wearing a seat belt.

Paramedics took both passengers to local trauma centers for treatment, Orange County Fire Authority spokesman Capt. Larry Kurtz said.

The driver and a third passenger, a 10-year-old girl from Anaheim, sustained minor injuries in the crash and were taken to local hospitals, Kurtz and the CHP said.

The driver and the girl were wearing seat belts, according to the CHP.

As the Explorer rolled over in the northbound lanes, it hit a white minivan, authorities said.

The van’s 65-year-old driver was unhurt, but a 56-year-old passenger in the front suffered moderate injuries and was taken to a local hospital, according to the CHP.

Both directions of Coast Highway were closed for several hours between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach while officials investigated.

The CHP identified the Explorer’s driver as Kathia Isabel Rodriguez of Fullerton.

Rodriguez was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence and felony wrong-way driving, according to the CHP.