UPDATE NO. 2, JUNE 23, 12:50 P.M.: Alec Scott Abraham has been charged with murder in the June 10 hit-and-run crash in Irvine that killed a grandmother and her 2-year-old granddaughter, prosecutors announced this afternoon. The 20-year-old Costa Mesa resident was originally charged with two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, one felony count of hit-and-run with permanent injury or death, one felony count of reckless driving with bodily injury, and one misdemeanor count of petty theft by taking and carrying away, and sentencing enhancements for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter and inflicting great bodily injury.
A conviction on those counts could have sent Abraham to state prison for up to 14 years, the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) announced earlier this month. But further investigation by OCDA and the Irvine Police Department uncovered newly discovered scientific evidence and witness information that allowed prosecutors to pursue murder charges, the OCDA announced in today's statement that added, “No further information about the investigation will be disclosed at this time.” This was disclosed: Abraham now faces up to 30 years to life in state prison with a conviction on the amended counts. Held on $1 million bail, Abraham had his scheduled arraignment today continued to July 8. Driver Katherine Hampton died at the scene of the crash and her 2-year-old granddaughter, Kaydence Hampton, who was seated behind the driver's seat, was pronounced dead on June 14 in a hospital. The OCDA statement indicates Kaydence's 28-year-old mother, who was seated in the passenger seat of the Chevy Cruze, was treated for a broken jaw while Kaydence's 7-year-old brother, who was seated next to her, was treated for a broken collarbone.
UPDATE NO. 1, JUNE 16, 9:31 A.M.: Alec Scott Abraham's arraignment Monday was postponed to June 23, which is when the 20-year-old Costa Mesa resident could enter a plea to charges he caused a hit-and-run crash that killed a grandmother and her 2-year-old granddaughter. Two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, felony counts of hit-and-run with permanent injury or death and reckless driving with bodily injury, a misdemeanor count of petty theft by taking and carrying away, and sentencing enhancements for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter and inflicting great bodily injury could send Abraham to state prison for 14 years with a conviction.
Abraham is believed to have been behind the wheel of a black Ford Mustang that was traveling at high speeds west on Alton Parkway before running a red light at the Barranca Parkway intersection, switching lanes in the intersection to get around another vehicle and slamming into the driver's side of a Chevy Cruze, according to Deputy District Attorney Stephen Cornwell. The Chevy's 54-year-old driver, Katherine Hampton, died at the scene. Kaydence Hampton, who was seated behind her grandmother, was in cardiac arrest following the crash but was revived at the hospital. She also suffered significant brain swelling and was pronounced dead Sunday afternoon. Her mother and brother are still being treated for their injuries. The petty theft count stems from Abraham allegedly approaching a bystander shortly after the crash, asking to use a cell phone and then running from the scene with the phone. City News Service, citing Orange County Superior Court records, indicate Abraham was ticketed: May 23 by the California Highway Patrol for driving 80 mph on the 405 freeway in Fountain Valley; Jan. 3 by park rangers for driving at an unsafe speed for prevailing conditions; and July 2014 by Irvine Police for straddling or making an unsafe lane change. Irvine cops also ticketed him in October for not wearing a seat belt, but the violation was dismissed, and a November ticket for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle was tossed out when the officer failed to show up for court, the news service reports.
ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 15, 7:34 A.M.: A young Costa Mesa man is scheduled to be formally charged and arraigned this morning for an alleged hit-and-run in Irvine last week that killed two people. Alec Scott Abraham, 20, was being held in lieu of $1 million bail amid accusations of felony gross vehicular manslaughter and felony hit and run, according to Farrah Emami, the Irvine Police spokeswoman. Katherine Hampton, the 54-year-old driver of a white Chevy Cruze, died at the scene of Wednesday night's three-vehicle collision that's been pinned to Abraham, who was behind the wheel of a black Ford Mustang. Hampton's 2-year-old granddaughter Kaydence succumbed to her crash injuries Sunday afternoon.
Hampton's adult daughter and 7-year-old grandson remain hospitalized in stable condition as of Sunday afternoon, according to Emami, who notes a 44-year-old woman driving a black Honda Civic with no passengers was also taken to an area hospital for treatment of injuries but she has since been released.
The investigation is ongoing, but here is what's been pieced together so far: Around 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Cruze, Mustang and Civic collided at the intersection of Alton Parkway at Barranca Parkway. Police allege the Mustang driver made it a literal hit and run by causing the crash and then fleeing the scene on foot.
Officers and police dogs on the ground searched for the Mustang driver with the assistance of Orange County Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol helicopters. Abraham was located at a Costa Mesa park and arrested by Irvine cops about 1 p.m. Thursday, according to Emami.
“Detectives are working to determine how the suspect made it to the park where he was located,” she added.
“Based on witness statements, the Irvine Police Department is investigating the possibility of street racing in this case,” Emami also revealed. “One additional vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed was observed at the scene and is described as a dark-colored, lowered coupe or sedan, possibly a Ford Mustang. The vehicle was last seen heading westbound on Alton Parkway away from the scene of the crash.”
Anyone with information about possible street racing or the identity of the mystery vehicle's occupant(s) is asked to call Irvine Police Detective Jonathan Cherney at 949.724.7024.
Kaydence Hampton, who like her late grandmother resided in Lake Forest, died at 2:22 p.m. Sunday at the Children's Hospital in Mission Viejo, according to the Orange County coroner.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.