Irvine Man Charged with Murder in Fatal Crash

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A 21-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder in what authorities say was a DUI-fueled crash in Irvine.

Luis Marcial Diaz of Irvine was charged Tuesday with the crash that killed 61-year-old Kyu Chen of Irvine on Sept. 27. Prosecutors alleged Diaz was driving under the influence of drugs.

Diaz was behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz 300 when he allegedly drove through a red light at Sand Canyon Road and Irvine Center Drive and crashed into a Toyota Prius that Chen was driving about 4:10 that morning, police said.

Diaz was already facing a driving under the influence of a drug case before the crash. On July 30, 2019, he was arrested in Huntington Beach on suspicion of striking a pedestrian, according to court records.

In his car, police found multiple “whippets” — a whipcream cannister and balloons — according to court records. He allegedly told a police officer he had consumed marijuana and whippets earlier in the day, according to court records.

In that case, he was charged with DUI, possession of nitrous oxide and driving without a valid driver’s license, according to court records.

Diaz would normally be charged with vehicular manslaughter in a fatal crash, but because he was already facing a DUI, he received what is called a Watson advisement, which warns DUI drivers if they have a fatal accident, they could face an upgraded charged of second-degree murder.

Diaz did not enter a plea at his arraignment Thursday. The arraignment was postponed until Oct. 28.

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