SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A 22-year-old woman was charged Thursday with two counts of murder in connection with a crash that killed a husband and wife, and injured their three young daughters.
Grace Elizabeth Coleman, of Newport Beach, was arraigned Thursday afternoon via livestream. She’s still hospitalized for injuries sustained during the crash.
Police say Coleman was driving under the influence when her Range Rover crashed into a family of five driving on Newport Coast Drive at about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. Henry Eduardo Saldana-Mejia, 27, and his wife, 29-year-old Gabriela Andrade, were pronounced dead at the scene. The couple’s young daughters — ages 1, 4, and 5 — were secured in car seats, but were still seriously injured in the crash, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
“Three young girls are orphans because of the selfish decision of a stranger,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a 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 couple’s relatives said they were on their way to pick up Saldana’s last paycheck at the nearby Pelican Hill resort, where he had been working in housekeeping.
A small memorial has been set up for Henry Eduardo Saldana-Mejia and his wife Gabriela Andrade of Santa Ana. On Tuesday night, they were both killed and their 3 children injured in a Newport Beach crash involving a suspected DUI driver 22yo Grace Coleman. @CBSLA @KCBSKCALDesk pic.twitter.com/L06jYPvOYU
— Chris Ercoli (@CErcoliCBS2KCAL) December 10, 2020
The charges against Coleman include two counts of murder, a count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, a count of driving with a blood alcohol of .08% or more causing bodily injury, and a count of hit-and-run with injury — all felonies. She also faces three felony enhancements of great bodily injury for the injuries suffered by all three of the couple’s daughters.
Coleman has also been charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol after an Aug. 29 arrest in Laguna Beach. She was not driving on a restricted or suspended license because the misdemeanor charge in that case was only filed this week.
According to the criminal complaint, Coleman ran a red light immediately before the crash. She was arrested after trying to leave the scene on foot, police said.
Coleman had a blood alcohol concentration of more than .20, after initially refusing a police officer’s request she submit to a breath and urine test, the criminal complaint said.
A judge revoked Coleman’s bail on Thursday during her arraignment. If convicted as charged, Coleman faces a maximum sentence of 34 years and eight months to life in state prison.