November 14, 2014
Case # 12NF0309
DRUNKEN WRONG-WAY FREEWAY DRIVER CONVICTED OF MURDERING ONE AND INJURING TWO OTHERS IN HEAD-ON CRASH
SANTA ANA – A drunken driver was convicted yesterday for murdering one and injuring two others in a head-on crash after driving the wrong way into oncoming traffic on two separate Orange County freeways. Ruben Gurrola, 26, Pomona, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count each of murder, driving under the influence causing bodily injury, driving with a blood alcohol level .08 percent or more causing injury, and a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury. He faces a maximum sentence of 22 years and eight months to life in state prison at his sentencing on Jan. 9, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-27, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Late on the night of Jan. 28, 2012, Gurrola left a Newport Beach bar with his then 24-year-old girlfriend Allison Poon after several hours of drinking alcohol with friends. The defendant took a cab with Poon to a friend’s house.
After arriving at the home, Gurrola got into the driver’s seat of a Honda sedan and drove away with Poon in the passenger seat. At approximately 1:40 a.m., the defendant drove under the influence of alcohol on the wrong side of the freeway into oncoming traffic, heading northbound in the southbound lanes of the 241 toll road. Several motorists called 911 and had to swerve to avoid being hit by the defendant.
Gurrola transitioned onto State Route 91, again driving on the wrong side of the freeway by heading eastbound in the westbound lanes. Gurrola crashed head-on into a Toyota sedan driven by 57-year-old Young Kim with 53-year-old Kyung Namgoong in the passenger seat.
Namgoong was transported the hospital and pronounced dead at approximately 2:50 a.m. Kim was transported to the hospital to be treated for back and leg pain and an ankle laceration. Poon was treated for a broken nose and pain in her neck.
Gurrola caused the crashed that killed Namgoong and injured Kim and Poon. The defendant had prior knowledge of the dangers of drinking and driving and that he could be charged with murder if he killed someone while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The defendant was transported to the hospital to be treated for a broken leg. At 3:15 a.m., Gurrola had a blood alcohol level of .17 percent. Gurrola was arrested upon his release from the hospital on Feb. 2, 2012, by the California Highway Patrol, who investigated this case.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.