It's as if all of Orange County needs a driver's-ed refresher course based on what has been happening on our streets and freeways the past few days.
Perhaps not so coincidentally, the carnage on our "Highways of Agony" have come amid roads slickened by that rare Southern California liquid the native peoples call "rain" (\ˈrān\).
That's normally followed by collective bouts of "driver amnesia"--which means you'll want to take an armored bus through Monday, as more off-and-on wet stuff is being predicted by the big-chested ladies on the telly.
How dangerous has it been out there? Berna Martinez, 74, of Tustin, was walking in the Red Hill Avenue crosswalk at the bottom of the 5 freeway ramp amid heavy rains around 11:45 a.m. Monday when she was struck by a Mercury Sable whose driver has only been identified as a 79-year-old woman from Aliso Viejo.
The driver kept on driving about three-quarters of a mile before another motorist flagged her down at Newport Avenue and Irvine Boulevard. She'd been dragging Martinez the whole way.
The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene.
Drugs and alcohol were ruled out as factors, and the driver was checked by paramedics, interviewed and sent home without being cited or arrested.
Arrest was on the mind of Garden Grove police who were having a hard time swallowing a driver's story about what happened on the eastbound 22 freeway near Magnolia Avenue early Saturday: He said his passenger fell or jumped out of his car. He then went back, picked the 27-year-old woman up off the pavement and called police around 2:45 a.m. after driving her to his Santa Ana home.
That's where Cynthia De Anda of Santa Ana was pronounced dead.
But the thing is, after interviewing the driver and looking at the available evidence, detectives found nothing to disprove his story. No arrest was made, although Garden Grove police say they will send their findings on to prosecutors to determine if charges are appropriate.
Around the same time De Anda left the car, Tania Gallina plowed the pickup truck she was driving head-on into a motorcycle as she turned off Westminster Boulevard onto the northbound 405 freeway on-ramp.
That's where Joey Ramos, 27, of Westminster, was pronounced dead.
He was reportedly making a late-night taco run. Gallina, 24, of Los Angeles, and her passenger were not injured, but she was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.
About eight hours later, just after 10 a.m. Saturday, Huntington Beach police received calls of a reckless driver in a black Camry speeding along Warner Avenue before turning into a Central Park entrance and cutting across the park by driving on sidewalks.
A police sergeant tried to use his cruiser to block the Camry at Springdale Street and Rosemont Avenue, but the driver rammed the cop car and continued on--followed by other officers. The wild ride finally came to an end in a residential greenbelt off Newland Street, where the Camry crashed into a back-patio fence.
But the chase was not over as the driver got out and fled. He tried to break into several homes along Gum Tree Lane, breaking some windows along the way, before Fountain Valley police found him hiding in a garage. He was wearing a metal vest plate under his leather jacket.
He was later identified by Huntington Beach Police Department asGerardo Flores
, 30, of Montebello. Flores was arrested on suspicion of possession of a loaded firearm, assault with a deadly weapon (for ramming a police barricade), evading police, burglary, multiple hit and run, possession of ecstasy, and vandalism.
That same night, police in Costa Mesa got a report that someone backed a Mazda sedan through the entrance of the DMV office on 19th Street. And it could not have been a new driver who just blew a driving test because the DMV was closed.
It turns out a woman was inside, messing with the computer and refusing police orders to come out. This went on for two hours before the sheriff's bomb squad rolled up. That's when the woman ran out to her car and tried to drive off, ignoring orders to halt.
Finally, a police dog was dispatched to subdue the woman, who suffered minor bite wounds to her head and hand. She was taken to Hoag Hospital for treatment and later arrested for burglary.
Identified as 49-year-old Tamera Grant of Irvine, police said she apparently has a mental disorder as she claimed to have gone to the DMV and crashed through the door to mail a letter. Um . . . yeah.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Early the next morning, just before 12:30 a.m. Sunday, a man police say was heavily intoxicated grabbed the steering wheel of the car his girlfriend was driving, causing it to crash into a metal-refinishing shop in the 1600 block of Superior Avenue in Costa Mesa (just a hop, skip and a scotch from the DMV).
When police rolled up, the 42-year-old driver was still behind the wheel, and her honey was outside the car. They'd apparently had a spat that precipitated his act of stupidity. They were taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The woman is only a few payments away from paying off her now-damaged car, according to police. Hey, maybe it'll need metal refinishing.
Her we-now-assume-former BF, Shon Nall, 45, of Newport Beach, was later arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, felony vandalism and sexual battery. The couple had only been dating about a month.
Triple-check those eHarmony profiles, ladies. As for Mr. Nall, he might want to see if Ms. Grant is taken. They sound like a perfect match.