Two Men in Custody in Fatal Racing Crash in Santa Ana

 In blog, Crime – MyNewsLA.com

Two Men in Custody in Fatal Racing Crash in Santa Ana

by Contributing Editor

Two men remained in custody Friday on suspicion of a fiery racing crash that killed a longtime newspaper editor near his Santa Ana home.

Ricardo Tolento Navarro, 24, of Santa Ana, was booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and was being held on $100,000 bail.

Louie Robert Villa, 29, of Santa Ana, who was injured in the crash, was arrested on suspicion of felony vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

Both men are scheduled to appear in court on Monday, the same day charges are expected to be filed.

They are accused of causing the death of 67-year-old Eugene Harbrecht, who had worked at the Orange County Register since 1984, most recently as the national and international news editor for the Southern California News Group that encompasses the Register and 10 other newspapers.

The collision occurred just before 11:45 a.m. Thursday at Bristol Street and Santa Clara Avenue, Bertagna said.

Navarro, who was driving an Infiniti, was allegedly racing with Villa, who was behind the wheel of a BMW. They were traveling north on Bristol approaching Santa Clara Avenue when the BMW struck Harbrecht’s Ford pickup truck as he was turning left onto Santa Clara, Bertagna said.

The pickup truck skidded 60 to 70 feet and caught fire, Bertagna said. Two area residents dashed over to help pull the victim out of the burning vehicle, Bertagna said.

Navarro fled the scene, but a witness got the license plate and police tracked him down hours later, he said.

The BMW was totaled and Villa was taken to an area hospital, where he remains under arrest, Bertagna said.

A Register story about Harbrecht described him as “a fixture in the Register newsroom” who “constantly was relied upon for his news judgment.” He played a key role in determining what wire service stories appeared on the front pages of SCNG newspapers.

“Gene was our secret weapon, someone who didn’t get much credit in the public but was vital to our operation,” Register senior editor Todd Harmonson said. “He always could sift through everything that was happening in the state, country and world and make sense of what our readers most needed to know. And that never was more important than in perhaps the wildest news year of our lives.”

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All credit goes to Contributing Editor
Originally published on https://mynewsla.com

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