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Mother held after son dies in crash

Hearing on drunk driving arrest today. Paramedic compares car to an aluminum can ripped in half.

August 10, 2006|By Lauren Vane

A Costa Mesa woman was being held on $1 million bail Wednesday after an alleged drunk-driving crash, which one paramedic said was the worst he's ever seen, killed her 6-year-old son.

Julie Ann Smith, 46, was arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving. She was released from the hospital and booked into Orange County Jail on Wednesday, said California Highway Patrol Officer Jennifer Hink.

"If you've ever ripped an aluminum can in half…. that's pretty much what the car resembled," said Newport Beach Firefighter Paramedic Jude Olivas, who was among the first rescuers at the crash scene on the Corona del Mar Freeway (73) in Newport Beach on Tuesday night.

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Witnesses saw Smith driving her 1992 Lexus sedan at speeds up to about 90 mph northbound on the freeway at 9:15 p.m., Hink said.

When traffic slowed in front of her, witnesses said the driver veered onto the shoulder, Hink said. She lost control of the car and hit the guardrail just south of Jamboree Road, Hink said.

Smith's son, Trevor, who was in the front passenger seat, was ejected from the car.

It's unclear how or if the boy was restrained because the car was totaled, Hink said. Based on photos from the crash, Hink said the car was "possibly cut in half," and investigators Wednesday were still reviewing the wreckage.

Smith was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. She was released Wednesday and is expected to appear in court today.

Trevor attended Woodland Elementary School in Costa Mesa, school district spokeswoman Jane Garland said.

Wednesday morning, the scene of the accident was still marred by a crumpled guard rail and the barricades that were left there from the night before.

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