Wrong-Way Crash That Killed 65-Year-Old Woman in Newport Beach May Have Been ‘Intentional Act’: CHP

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A violent, head-on collision involving a wrong-way driver that left a woman dead on State Route 73 in Newport Beach Wednesday morning is being investigated as a possible intentional act, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A 65-year-old woman was killed when a wrong-way driver crashed into her vehicle on Newport Beach on June 5, 2019. (Credit: OnScene.TV)

A 65-year-old woman was killed when a wrong-way driver crashed into her vehicle on Newport Beach on June 5, 2019. (Credit: OnScene.TV)

The silver Mercedes-Benz was driving southbound on the northbound side of the 73 near Campus Drive when it crashed into a white BMW just before 9 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol's incident log.

The driver of the Mercedes — identified as 23-year-old Luke Fitch of Newport Beach — had been speeding erratically on surface streets before entering the highway from Birch Street, said CHP Officer John DeMatteo.

Fitch was going at least 100 mph before crashing into the BMW, killing that car's driver, according to DeMatteo.

“Based on the driving we have beforehand, we kind of have to treat it as if it looks like an intentional act, a homicide thus far," CHP Sgt. Todd Kovaletz told KTLA at the scene. “We’re trying to look into all possibilities, whether it qualifies as a collision or if it’s an intentional act."

Although CHP said the BMW driver was 65-year-old Arda Gulesserian, a nephew identified her as Arda Melikyan, 64.

From left: Arda Melikyan is seen in an undated photo provided by her family, and Luke Fitch is shown in a photo posted to his Facebook page on May 10, 2019.

From left: Arda Melikyan is seen in an undated photo provided by her family, and Luke Fitch is shown in a photo posted to his Facebook page on May 10, 2019.

Melikyan ran company with her husband restoring old Volkswagens called VW Thing Parts & Restoration Specialists, the nephew said.

Fitch was injured in the crash. He was taken to a local hospital in unknown condition.

A Lexus was also involved in the collision, but neither the driver nor passenger were injured, DeMatteo said, noting the car was moderately damaged.

The Mercedes and BMW both suffered extensive front-end damage, with the latter vehicle's hood completely smashed in, news photographer video showed.

Authorities have not made an arrest, and it was not immediately known whether the wrong-way driver was impaired at the time, according to DeMatteo.

Three northbound lanes have been closed while investigators collect evidence and clean up the crash site, which was littered with debris from the collision. Authorities have not said when the highway would fully reopen.

KTLA's Jennifer Thang contributed to this story.

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