SANTA ANA, Calif. – A 22-year-old woman has been charged with two counts of murder for crashing into a Santa Ana family’s car, killing a husband and wife while she was driving under the influence of alcohol. The couple’s three young daughters were seriously injured. Prosecutors are alleging her blood alcohol level was more than .20% at the time of the collision.
Grace Elizabeth Coleman, 22, of Newport Beach, 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. Coleman has also been charged with three felony enhancements of great bodily injury for causing injuries to all three of the couple’s daughters.
Coleman has also been charged with one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol and one misdemeanor count of driving with a blood alcohol of .08% or more in connection with an August 29, 2020 arrest in Laguna Beach.
Coleman faces a maximum sentence of 34 years and eight months to life in state prison if convicted on all charges.
Gabriela Andrade, 28, of Santa Ana, and her husband, Henry Saldana-Mejia, 27, of Santa Ana were driving with their three daughters, ages 1, 4, and 5, near the intersection of Pelican Hill Road and Newport Coast Drive on December 8, 2020. At approximately 7:46 p.m. Coleman is accused of running a red light and crashing into the family’s vehicle, killing both parents and seriously injuring their three daughters who were secured in car seats.
The couple was killed and their three daughters were seriously injured in the collision.
“Three young girls are orphans because of the selfish decision of a stranger,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “Everyone knows how dangerous drinking and driving or using drugs and driving is, and that it is a crime. Yet over and over again people choose to get behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs, and they are killing innocent people and destroying lives. This has to stop. 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 current pandemic has resulted in increased alcohol and drug use. We as members of the community all have a responsibility and duty to stop people who have been drinking or using drugs from driving. Putting a stop to this carnage is a community responsibility.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.