Slain Passenger ID’d in 4-Vehicle Laguna Beach Crash; DUI Suspected

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Authorities on Monday released the identity of a man who was killed in a four-vehicle crash that police suspect may have been caused by drunken driving.


Erik Ortiz Valencia was killed Jan. 26, 2014, in a crash in Laguna Beach. (Credit: DMV)

Erik Valencia, 29, of Irvine was died shortly after 1:30 p.m. in the 3000 block of North Coast Highway, according to the Orange County coroner’s officer.

“The decedent was a passenger in an out of control auto versus truck traffic accident,” read a short statement on the coroner’s website.

Police had opened a criminal investigation into the crash.

Valencia’s body was pulled from the scene of the collision, which left five others hospitalized, Laguna Beach police Sgt. Eric Lee said Sunday evening.

He referred to the case as a “homicide investigation” and said the Irvine Police Department was assisting.

One car traveling on the northbound side of the roadway — an extension of Pacific Coast Highway — when it struck another vehicle and then veered into southbound lanes and hit two other vehicles. Car parts and debris were scattered across the roadway.

The driver was in critical but stable condition on Monday, Laguna Beach police Capt. Jason Kravetz said. He was expected to survive but could not be interviewed until his condition improves, Kravetz said.

The results of a blood test to determine if the unidentified driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs was pending, Kravetz said.

Police suspect the driver was DUI, Kravetz said.

The roadway was shut down Sunday; all lanes had reopened by about 11 p.m.

Police initially said five vehicles were involved, but that figure was revised to four, Lee said.

KTLA’s Chip Yost and Christina Pascucci contributed to this article.

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