Suspect Arrested

Vigil / Candles and flowers framed the photographs of three hit-and-run victims who died on Oct. 31 in Santa Ana. / Liz monroy / el Don

By Joanna Meza

Jaquinn Bell was arrested Nov. 2 on suspicion of hit-and-run leading to the death of twins Lexi and Lexandra Perez and friend Andrea Gonzalez on Halloween night in Santa Ana.

Bell was charged Tuesday with three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, one felony count of hit-and-run with permanent injury or death, one misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended license, and fleeing the scene of a crime after committing a vehicular manslaughter, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

Bell now faces up to 17 years in state prison and is being held on $1 million bail.

“They should give him the worst punishment ever because we’re in a lot of pain,” said Briana Magana, a friend of Andrea at the memorial on Monday afternoon.

Bell has an extensive record and a suspended license, which means he was not allowed to drive. It was also reported that Bell had his children, a 17-year-old-boy and a 14-year-old girl, in the vehicle with him at the time of the accident.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that anybody who was driving in a vehicle that impacted three individuals in a crosswalk and had significant damage in their vehicle probably knew they hit something,” said SAPD Chief Carlos Rojas in a press conference.

In the aftermath of the accident friends and members of the community are helping the girls’ families raise money for funeral costs.

Lexi and Lexandra Perez have a Facebook page and a Go Fund Me page that has raised more than $40,000 as of Nov. 5.

Gonzalez has a Go Fund Me page that has raised about $30,000.

Principal Jim D’ Agostino at Santiago Charter Middle School, which Andrea attended, set up the page.

The girls were in the middle of a crosswalk in front of Fairhaven Elementary School where Bell is suspected of striking them about 6:45 p.m.

“We’re kind of upset that there’s no lighting and this is such a fast street anyway,” said community member Tara Reynaud of the crosswalk. “Now we hear that [Mayor] Miguel Pulido said they were going to do something about the street. They should have done
that before.”

Flowers, candles and stuffed animals fill the curb, near where the accident happened, in an impromptu memorial for three lives cut short.

Although Bell is now behind bars and could face years in jail, it brings no comfort to family and friends.

“Do I think that’s going to make the families feel better? Absolutely not, their kids are gone, their beautiful little babies are gone,” Reynaud said.

In Orange County it was one of three accidents resulting in fatalities since Halloween night.

In Irvine a 65-year-old man was out trick-or-treating with his 4-year-old son when they were both struck by a car.

The father, who was later identified as immigration attorney John Roger Alcorn, died that same night and his son John Lincoln was left in critical but stable condition.

In this situation the driver, a woman, stopped and stayed at the scene and initially faced no charges but the investigation is ongoing, Irvine police said.

On Saturday night, a 44-year-old woman, Daniella Palacios, was riding her bicycle when a white truck struck her, according to video surveillance.

Palacios was also a victim of a hit and run but no one has been arrested in this case. She left behind eight children and several grandchildren.

A total of five people died in Orange Count in car and pedestrian collisions over the Halloween weekend.

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