Fundraising efforts are underway for three children left orphaned after an impaired driver crashed into the family’s car in Newport Beach, California, leaving their parents dead and the kids injured.
Henry Eduardo Saldana-Mejia, 27, and Gabriela M. Andrade, 28, were killed Dec. 8 while driving with their daughters. Their children—5-year-old Sophia, 3-year-old Elena, and 1-year-old Samantha—were dressed in pajamas for the outing. All three are being treated for undisclosed injuries at Memorial Hospital.
The 7:46 p.m. crash happened when a black Range Rover driving south on Newport Coast Drive collided with the victim’s Nissan Versa, which was turning onto Pelican Hill Road, police said.
Ana Belen Moreno, whose sister was killed, said she was saddened and devastated by the news.
“We didn’t expect any of this to happen,” Moreno wrote on a GoFundMe page created to raise money for funeral and medical expenses.
“We are in shock, and in a process of [facing] all medical expenses and looking into funeral expenses as well. We understand that we are all in a economic and pandemic crisis but anything would be greatly appreciated … to get the help that we need for my three nieces that are left without their parents.”
As of the afternoon of Dec. 10, the page had raised over $100,000, more than tripling the initial $28,000 fundraising goal.
Newport Beach lawyer Brett Nemeth created an additional GoFundMe page to support his client—Henry Saldana-Mejia’s sister—who will raise the girls, he said.
“The family needs funds to help support them now and in the future for their expenses and long term educational needs,” Nemeth wrote. “The driver of the other car was charged with murder for driving under the influence. This is not her first DUI. All funds raised will be monitored and used wisely for the sole benefit of the girls.”
His fundraising efforts had raised over $9,300 as of Dec. 10.
A third GoFundMe page, launched by Hugo Lux, has generated about $8,600. Lux’s relationship with the victims was not clear.
Grace Elizabeth Coleman of Newport Beach was booked on suspicion of murder, driving under the influence (DUI), and hit-and-run resulting in death.
Newport Beach Police Department spokesperson Heather Rangel said Dec. 10 that Coleman was still in the hospital under police supervision. She didn’t disclose the nature of Coleman’s injuries.
Coleman, 22, was arrested in August for an earlier DUI in Laguna Beach.