Laguna car crash

A fatal car crash closed North Coast Highway near the city limits at Irvine Cove in north Laguna, snarling traffic to a standstill from Thalia Street all the way out to Laguna Canyon Road on Sunday evening. (Don Leach / Coastline Pilot / January 26, 2014)

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An Irvine man died a week shy of his 30th birthday in a multiple-vehicle collision on North Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, authorities said.

The Orange County coroner has identified the dead man as Erik Valencia. 

The head-on collision occurred at 1:34 p.m. Sunday in the 3000 block near Irvine Cove and involved four vehicles, according to the Laguna Beach Police Department. 

Valencia, who died at the scene, was a passenger in a silver Honda S2000 roadster driven by a 27-year-old Mission Viejo resident, Capt. Jason Kravetz wrote in an email. 

The Mission Viejo man was transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo with severe injuries but is expected to survive, Kravetz said. 

“Because this is an active criminal investigation, the driver’s name is not being released because he is a suspect and has not been arrested,” Kravetz said. “The investigation is of course ongoing, but based on preliminary findings, [the Honda] caused the collision.”

Six other people were transported to area hospitals with injuries ranging from minor complaints of pain to serious head and upper-body trauma, according to Kravetz. 

Two passengers in a GMC Sierra truck suffered fractured ribs, including a 68-year-old San Juan Capistrano man who was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana with a partially collapsed lung, Kravetz said. 

North Coast Highway was closed in both directions from San Joaquin Street north to Reef Point Drive (near Crystal Cove State Park) from 1:34 p.m. to 11 p.m., while Viejo Street, one block south of San Joaquin, was closed for a time, according to Kravetz. 

Emerald Bay and Irvine Cove residents were allowed home during the road closure, he said.

Police set up a message board alerting travelers to the closure at Broadway Street and Coast Highway. 

Valencia would have turned 30 Saturday.