A 22-year-old Newport Beach woman is facing murder charges after allegedly killing a Santa Ana couple and injuring their three daughters in a suspected DUI crash, prosecutors said Thursday.
Grace Elizabeth Coleman, who was also arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in another incident in August, is accused of driving with a blood alcohol content of more than .20% at the time of the deadly Dec. 8 collision, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
She faces up to 34 years and eight months to life in state prison if convicted on all charges, the DA’s office said.
According to prosecutors, Gabriela Andrade, 28, and her 27-year-old husband, Henry Saldana-Mejia, were driving with their three young daughters near the intersection of Pelican Hill Road and Newport Coast Drive around 7:46 p.m. when Coleman ran a red light and slammed into their vehicle.
In addition to killing Gabriela and Henry, the collision left their daughters — ages 1, 4 and 5 — with serious injuries even as all three girls were secured in car seats, prosecutors said. The coroner’s office on Wednesday identified the husband as Henrry Saldana-Mejia.
“Three young girls are orphans because of the selfish decision of a stranger,” O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a written statement. “Children should not have to grow up without their parents because someone decided to make the wrong decision and get behind the wheel while intoxicated.”
The three girls were in stable condition Thursday night, after one them had surgery earlier in the day, Saldana-Mejia’s sister, identified only as Diana, told KTLA, adding that she’s their temporary legal guardian.
Loved ones said the family was going to pick up a paycheck, while a GoFundMe page created for funeral expenses said the couple and their children were looking at Christmas lights. Another fundraising page was set up to help with the girls’ future expenses.
Coleman was charged with two felony counts of murder, one felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, one felony count of driving with a blood alcohol of .08% or more causing bodily injury and one felony count of hit-and-run with injury, the DA’s office said.
Due to an Aug. 29 arrest in Laguna Beach, she also faces a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol and a misdemeanor count of driving with a blood alcohol of .08% or more.