Two Die in Mother’s Day Collision

A roadside shrine marks the scene of a Mother's Day crash in Laguna Beach that claimed two lives.
A roadside shrine marks the scene of a Mother’s Day crash in Laguna Beach that claimed two lives.

Updated May 11, 2015, 5 p.m.

An 85-year-old motorist died as a result of injuries suffered in a collision in Laguna Beach early Sunday, May 10, that also claimed the life of a mother and injured her two young children, authorities confirmed.

The coroner identified the victims as Sandra Maldonado, 31, of Mission Viejo, who died within hours of the 12:26 a.m. accident and Manuel Mercado, of Laguna Woods, who was gravely injured and died at 5:42 p.m., the coroner’s office said.

Today, potted lilies, a loose bouquet of pink carnations and a crystalline cross mark an informal roadside shrine on El Toro still littered with debris. The Mother’s Day crash occurred not far from another early morning double fatality on Laguna Canyon Road that claimed the lives of two men in April 2013.

Maldonado’s two children, a 5-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, were treated for minor injuries at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana and released to relatives, Laguna police Sgt. Tim Kleiser said.

Police say Maldonado was driving outbound on El Toro Road while Mercado was inbound when the cars sideswiped each other near the intersection with Laguna Canyon Road. The impact sent both vehicles spinning out of control and one rolled over into brush.

Police have yet to determine which vehicle drifted across the two-lane road and why, and why these motorists were on the road at all at that hour, Kleiser said.

Though alcohol does not appear to be a factor, other theories include a distraction and dozing off, said Kleiser, who said Mercado’s wife, an uninjured passenger, had yet to be questioned.

Summoned by three 911 calls around 12:30 a.m., emergency personnel arrived and found two extremely damaged cars with multiple occupants suffering varying degrees of injuries and had to physically extract both drivers.

The motorists were transported to Mission Hospital’s trauma center in Mission Viejo, where they both died, the coroner’s office said.


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