A 28-year-old Kenyan man has been arrested in California following a hit-and-run collision that led to the death of a 74-year-old Newport Beach resident.
Stewart Leacky Waithanji, who has a long history of drunk driving, was driving with a female passenger when he collided with another vehicle on Newport Boulevard on Saturday.
The driver of that vehicle identified by the Orange County district attorney’s office as Richard Frost, 74, succumbed to the injuries sustained during the crash.
Waithanji, a resident of Costa Mesa, is facing one count of felony murder, two felony charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, and two misdemeanor charges related to property damage caused during the collision.
In a criminal complaint filed on Tuesday, prosecutors noted that in a period of 10 years, Waithanji had committed three separate violations of willful or wanton disregard for people’s safety.
Court records by the state of Iowa show three past convictions for first, second, and third-degree DUI offenses committed in January and May of 2016 and November 2017 respectively.
Waithanji was also a named suspect in two prior DUI-related offenses currently pending in Orange County Superior Court.
“A 74-year-old man was left for dead in the middle of the street, tossed aside as if he never mattered, because of the selfish decision of a stranger to get behind the wheel while intoxicated,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement on Tuesday.
“His life may not have mattered to the driver who left him for dead, but it matters to me and it matters to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. And we will fight for justice for him and everyone who loved him.”
Waithanji, whose occupation is listed as “server,” is being held at Intake Release Center in Santa Ana on $1 million bail.