Originally posted at 5:15 p.m. April 8, 2014.
A San Clemente man has been charged with vehicular manslaughter in the 4th of July death of a Laguna Niguel woman who was out walking her dog when she was struck by a car.
Christopher James Gallo, 44, San Clemente is expected to be arraigned Wednesday.
The accident took place on Golden Lantern near Beacon Hill Way around 9:10 a.m. July 4, according to the coroner's office. Laguna Niguel resident LuZanna Malec was walking on the sidewalk when a car hopped the curb and hit her, and she died at the scene, according to the coroner's office. Her husband was also struck and injured in the accident.
Orange County Sheriff's deputies suspected the driver may have been DUI.
Gallo first came to the attention of law enforcement officials three months before the deadly accident in Laguna Niguel. In April 2013, a California Highway Patrol officer pulled Gallo over along the I-5 at Camino de Estrella in San Clemente, according to Orange County District Attorney’s office.
At that incident, “Gallo is accused of displaying objective symptoms of alcohol intoxication. The defendant is accused of having a blood alcohol content of .08 percent and possessing more than 300 grams of marijuana with evidence indicating he was planning to sell it,” says a D.A. press release.
Altogether, according to the D.A.’s office, Gallo is charged with one felony count each of:
- Vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated
- Driving under the influence causing bodily injury
- Possession of marijuana for sale, sale or transportation of marijuana
- And one misdemeanor count each of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more
- Two misdemeanor counts of driving on a suspended or revoked license
He faces sentencing enhancement allegations for inflicting great bodily injury and great bodily injury to multiple victims, officials said.
If convicted, Gallo faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison for the felony charges and one year and six months in jail for the misdemeanor charges.
He is currently being held on $150,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Malec worked for Wells Fargo Advisors in Newport Beach. She was also a published author, having penned books on retirement investing, and a mother of three, according to the Orange County Register.