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Santa Ana, CA – Eugene Harbrecht, Editor at Orange County Register, Killed in Crash Involving Suspected Street Racer

Posted on July 31, 2020

Editor at Orange County Register, Killed in Crash Involving Suspected Street Racer

SANTA ANA, CA (July 31, 2020) – Eugene Harbrecht, an editor for the Orange County Register, was killed in a crash involving a suspected street racer in Santa Ana on Thursday. The July 30 incident occurred where Santa Clara Avenue and Bristol Street intersect.

The time was roughly 11:45 a.m., according to Anthony Bertagna. Bertagna is a corporal with Santa Ana Police.

People who witnessed the incident were reported to have said a vehicle, described as a silver BMW sedan, and another vehicle, described as an Infinite sedan, dark in color, were racing each other at a fast speed on Bristol Street.

Harbrecht had been traveling in a truck–described as a Ford Ranger–and was making a turn to the left from Bristol onto Santa Clara when the BMW hit him. The force of the crash shoved the Ford roughly 60 feet to strike a fence. The truck erupted in flames.

Good Samaritans, who reside in the area, provided help to the victim. They broke the window and extricated Harbrecht from the burning truck. Officers arrived on scene and extinguished the fire shortly after.

Responders transported Harbrecht to UC Irvine Medical Center. He died in the hospital.

Harbrecht was 67 years old, and a resident of Santa Ana. He was employed at the Orange County Register since 1984. His was a national and international news editor.

Responders transported the driver of the BMW to a hospital. The condition of the patient has not been described.

Authorities identified the suspect driver as Louie Robert Villa, a resident of Santa Ana, 29 years old. Villa was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, authorities said.

The driver of the Infiniti that was suspected of racing the BMW fled the incident site. A person who witnessed the incident gave the license plate number to police. Officers found the vehicle in a few hours, in the area of the post office near Pacific Avenue and First Street.

Authorities arrested the driver on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter. The person was identified as Ricardo Tolento Navarro, a resident of Santa Ana, 24 years old.

According to Bertagna, street racing has increased recently. The crash that killed Harbrecht was the second fatal crash this year in Santa Ana that involved street racing.

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