[UPDATED with Arraignment Now Thursday. Maybe:] Kyung Namgoong, OC Homicide No. 5: Ruben Gurrola, Wrong-Way Driver, Held for Murder
|Courtesy of OCDA|
UPDATE, FEB. 6, 4:41 P.M.: It's difficult to fathom what would be largely different tomorrow compared to today when it comes to Ruben Gurrola's broken leg, but treatment of it has delayed by one day the Pomona 23-year-old's arraignment on a murder count.
Gurrola, who is accused of driving a Honda sedan drunk and the wrong direction on a toll road and a freeway before plowing into a Toyota and killing 53-year-old passenger Kyung Namgoong of Buena Park, is now scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Santa Ana.
The driver, who the CHP says drove with a blood alcohol level of .17 percent and knew the dangers of boozing before getting behind the wheel, remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail.
ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 3, 9:55 A.M.: With murder charges pending against a drunken driver accused of causing a collision before zipping along the wrong way on two Orange County freeways, our 2012 homicide count accelerates up to five.
Gurrola is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on one felony count each of murder, driving under the influence causing bodily injury, and driving with a blood alcohol level .08 percent or more causing injury. He also faces sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing great bodily injury and causing bodily injury to more than one victim.
Currently held at the Central Jail in Santa Ana on $1 million bail, Gurrola could get up to 19 years to life in state prison with a conviction.
He is accused of drinking late into Saturday night at a Newport Beach bar with friends and his 24-year-old girlfriend, Allison Poon. The couple later took a cab to a friend's house, where Gurrola climbed behind the wheel of the Honda while Poon occupied the passenger seat.
Authorities say that beginning at 1:40 a.m., they received 9-1-1 calls of the Honda heading the wrong way and into oncoming traffic in the southbound lanes of the 241 toll road, with many motorists reporting they had to swerve to avoid collisions.
The Honda later transitioned onto State Route 91, but it was again heading the wrong direction in the westbound lanes. It was shortly after that that the Toyota driven by 57-year-old Young Kim was struck as Namgoong sat in the passenger seat.
She was later taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead around 2:50 a.m. Kim was also hospitalized for back and leg pain and an ankle laceration. Poon suffered a broken nose and pain in her neck, while Gurrola was hospitalized with a broken leg.
Authorities say that at 3:15 a.m., Gurrola had a blood alcohol level of .17 percent. The California Highway Patrol investigated the case and arrested the driver Thursday in the hospital. When it was determined Gurrola had prior knowledge of the dangers of drinking and driving, the murder count was filed, and Senior Deputy District Attorney Alison Gyves of the Homicide Unit was assigned the prosecution.