Suspected DUI driver arrested after motorcyclist dies in Laguna Beach collision


A Huntington Beach woman was arrested Saturday night on suspicion of driving under the influence following a Laguna Canyon traffic collision that killed a motorcyclist, authorities said.

Around 10:15 p.m., Laguna Beach emergency dispatch received 911 calls regarding a traffic collision involving a motorcyclist and Honda vehicle in the 2300 block of Laguna Canyon Road. Laguna Beach police and firefighters arrived minutes later and pronounced the motorcyclist dead at the crash scene.

“Preliminary investigation revealed that three vehicles and a motorcyclist were traveling outbound… when the motorcyclist attempted to pass on the left side,” Interim Police Chief Jeff Calvert said in a press release Sunday. “At the same time, the driver of one of the three vehicles tried to make an unexpected U-turn, which caused the motorcyclist to collide with the vehicle.”

Stefano Albano, 55, of Corona was identified as the deceased motorcyclist, Laguna Beach police said.

Becky Merrifield Ettinger, 68, of Huntington Beach was arrested on suspicion of DUI causing bodily injury. She was held on a $100,000 bail, according to police records.

Ettinger is employed as a professor of pediatric and maternal nursing at Santa Ana College, a college spokesperson wrote in an email Wednesday.

After the crash, all lanes of Laguna Canyon Road were closed from Forest Avenue to El Toro Road from 10:25 p.m. to 5:45 a.m. on Sunday. Since trolley service through the Canyon was halted, about 200 patrons leaving the Pageant of the Masters attempted to walk and retrieve their vehicles, according to police records. Officers and cadets directed them to only drive toward Downtown Laguna.

The incident is still under investigation.

This story is developing and will be updated as necessary.

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  1. Absolutely terrible DUI tragedy that could have been prevented. This woman will not only have to fightDUIcharges that are a felony offense for manslaughter, but after the DUI punishment also live with the guilt of taking another life through her reckless actions driving under the influence.

  2. STEFANO ALBANO was my best friend, He didn’t deserve to died like this, she’s got to pay for killing him………..

  3. In 102 similar California cities, Laguna Beach ranks second as the most dangerous for motorcyclists. In accidents involving Alcohol Laguna ranks sixth from the bottom (OTS ranking system 2018 data). 2300 LCR is roughly the address for LCAD, a two-lane no-passing road on a right curve outbound. Mr. Albano chose to pass in this location, Professor Ettinger chose to make a U-turn (while suspected of intoxication), more bad choices. This collision does not diminish the poor traffic safety record for Laguna Beach, Caltrans should implement their Deputy Directive 64 for SR-133 in Laguna Beach. (For the record I have been a motorcyclist for 54 years).


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