SANTA ANA, Calif. – A 28-year-old Costa Mesa man charged with murder for killing Richard Frost, 74, of Newport Beacha while driving under the influence had three prior driving under the influence convictions and was wanted on warrants on two other driving under the influence cases. He has also been charged in a hit-and-run that occurred shortly before the fatal collision.
Stewart Waithanji was arrested by Costa Mesa police at a nearby bar parking lot shortly after the hit-and-run collision that left the 74-year-old man dead.
Waithanji has been charged with one felony count of murder, one felony count of driving under the influence, one felony count of driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher, and two misdemeanor counts of hit and run.
Prosecutors have asked for an increased bail of $2 million. He faces a maximum sentence of life if convicted on all charges.
Around 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 10, 2021, Costa Mesa police were called to the scene of a hit-and-run accident on Newport Boulevard south of 17th Street with witnesses attempting stop the driver from leaving the scene. Officers found an injured 74-year-old man in the street. The man was treated by paramedics and taken to a local hospital where he died.
Witnesses reported the victim was attempting to stop the driver of a silver Chevy Malibu from leaving the scene when he was struck. The driver, later identified as Waithanji, continued driving. He was arrested a short time later in the parking lot of a Los Alamitos bar.
Waithanji was wanted on a warrant on a September 2019 driving under the influence case and also on second warrant for an October 2019 driving under the influence case. He has three prior driving under the influence convictions in Iowa.
“The life of a human being is not something to be discarded and thrown away; a life is something to be celebrated, treasured, and lived to the very fullest,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “Yet, a 74-year-old man was left for dead in the middle of the street, tossed aside as if he never mattered, because of the selfish decision of a stranger to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. His life may not have mattered to the driver who left him for dead, but it matters to me and it matters to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. And we will fight for justice for him and everyone who loved him.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.