Man Dies in High Speed Collision

This vehicle crashed into this tree at over 100mph, killing the driver. Photo by Ted Reckas.

Traffic resumed flowing without disruption in downtown Laguna Beach by midday on Monday following the temporary morning closure of Broadway Avenue due to a single car collision that resulted in the death of the driver.

Laguna residents on Ocean Avenue were awakened around 2:20 a.m. by a loud crash when a vehicle traveling at speeds reportedly of 100 mph hit a tree on Broadway near Forest Avenue. The driver, 31, of Huntington Beach, who was not further identified, was pronounced dead by paramedics at 2:52 a.m., according to CHP officer John Patterson. Authorities later discovered the silver Scion XB driven by the suspect had been reported stolen.

Cliff Wassman, who lives on Ocean Avenue directly behind where the crash occurred, said, “I was worried. I saw these flames in the street not that far away. The flames were going over the buildings from my vantage in the street, I’d say 25 ft in the air. The whole thing was lit up like a torch. It happened really quickly.”

A CHP investigator documents the scene as a resident looks on. Photo by Ted Reckas.

At about 2:15 a.m. a CHP officer observed a silver Scion XB speeding at over 65 mph south bound on the 405 Freeway at Jamboree Road. When the officer attempted to pull over the vehicle as the driver turned onto Highway 133 south, the car accelerated to over 100 mph, failing to yield to lights and sirens. The CHP officer chased the vehicle on Laguna Canyon Road until its terminus, a hard-to-negotiate right hand turn near the bus station on Broadway.

“The driver failed to negotiate the turn, went over the line and hit the tree,” said Patterson.

Broadway was closed from Forest Avenue to Beach Street. Photo by Ted Reckas.

“When I went out, one of the girls that lives across the street was out too. It was directly behind her house. She was all shaken up. She thought it physically crashed into her building. It would have if it wasn’t for that tree,” said Wassman.

A CHP investigation is ongoing.


Photo by Ted Reckas.
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