NEWPORT BEACH (CNS) - A 65-year-old woman was killed today in a head-on collision with a man suspected of intentionally driving a Mercedes the wrong way on the Corona Del Mar (73) Freeway at speeds topping 100 mph.
Witnesses reported seeing a silver Mercedes-Benz being driven erratically at high speed just before 9 a.m., California Highway Patrol Officer John DeMatteo said. The driver -- a 23-year-old Newport Beach man -- entered the freeway at Birch Street going south in the northbound lanes, DeMatteo said, and witnesses said he was traveling in excess of 100 mph.
A few drivers managed to avoid the Mercedes before it slammed into a white BMW, DeMatteo said. A white Lexus then crashed into the Mercedes, he said.
The Mercedes driver, whose name was not immediately released, was taken to OC Global Medical Center in Santa Ana, DeMatteo said. The woman driving the BMW was pronounced dead at the scene. Her name was withheld pending notification of her family.
The driver and the passenger in the Lexus avoided injury.
CHP Sgt. Todd Kovaletz said investigators suspect the Mercedes driver may have intentionally driven the wrong way on the freeway, meaning the case could become a homicide investigation.
“Based on the reports of him driving recklessly beforehand and the way he got on, that's why we are looking into it as a possible intentional act,” Kovaletz told ABC7. “So as far as intoxication goes right now, it's obviously something that's suspected, but until we can get there and interview him and talk to the hospital, it's too early to say one way or the other.”
Three lanes of the northbound 73 Freeway remained blocked as of midday.
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