Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
October 26, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
DRUNKEN FREEWAY DRIVER CONVICTED OF CRASHING CAR INTO TWO MEN, KILLING ONE,
WHILE THEY WERE CHANGING A TIRE
SANTA ANA – A drunken driver was convicted today of killing one man and injuring another by crashing his car into the victims as they attempted to change a tire on the freeway shoulder. Felipe Navarro Orona, 45, Garden Grove, pleaded guilty to the court to one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury. He faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in state prison at his sentencing on Nov. 16, 2009, at 1:45 p.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The defendant is out of custody on $120,000 bail pending sentencing.
At approximately 3:00 a.m. on April 18, 2009, Orona was driving while under the influence of alcohol southbound on Interstate 5 near Harbor Boulevard in his Ford truck. The defendant was driving on the right shoulder of the freeway and failed to see and avoid two men, Jose Castellanos and Joe Rodriguez, who were changing a car tire. As Orona attempted to take the Harbor Boulevard off-ramp, he crashed his car into the two victims at approximately 55 mph.
Castellanos, 23, died at the scene due to blunt force trauma to his head, body, and legs. Rodriguez, 21, was transported to the hospital and suffered fractures to his skull, jaw, and sinus.
When contacted by police at the scene, Orona displayed objective signs of intoxication including slurred speech, bloodshot and watery eyes, and omitting an odor of alcohol. Two hours after the crash, the defendant had a blood alcohol level of .15 percent.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.