Police are investigating a collision they believe was caused by a drunk driver that killed a Cal State Fullerton student last month.
Ariana Lee died at the age of 22 in a car accident on Oct. 5 after a car she was a passenger in was struck by a driver.
She will be posthumously awarded her bachelor’s degree in a private ceremony set for January open only to family, her professors and any staff members who were instrumental in her education.
She would have graduated next year with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology.
“She loved Cal State Fullerton, she said it was one of the best schools in the country,” Nicholas Lee, Ariana’s brother, said.
Ariana Lee loved school and helping the elderly, as well as comforting people who were in pain, her family said.
“My sister always carried Band-Aids, candy and Neosporin, just in case people felt down or they got minor cuts, she was always there like a mini-medic,” Nicholas Lee said.
Nicholas Leeleft home when he was 18 to join the Army and returned home at the age of 23.
He said he only had the last year to spend with his sister after returning home, and shortly before her death.
“She had a lot to offer her community, and it’s very sad and unfortunate that it all was stolen from her,” Nicholas Lee said.
He was at home sleeping when California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers showed up at his door at 7 a.m., hours after the accident, to inform him and his mother, Jessica Lee, that Ariana was in a fatal car accident. He described that particular moment as feeling surreal.
“I felt like there was a deep hole in my chest,” Nicholas Lee said. “Being sad can’t explain the pain that our family felt.”
Vincent Verduzco, 25, was driving a 2003 Mercedes- Benz when he collided with a 2000 Mercedes-Benz driven by Ariana Lee’s friend Elaine Wang, according to the CHP.
Verduzco, who was under the influence of alcohol, hit the car Ariana Lee was in at approximately 2:43 a.m.
Ariana Lee was seated on the rear right side of the car, was in the vehicle with two other young women, the driver, 22, Wang and 21, Jennifer Wong, 21, the front seat passenger.
Verduzco, was arrested at the scene and has since been released on a $100,000 bail.
Verduzco was driving eastbound on Colima Road, west of Allenton Avenue was approaching a flashing red traffic control signal.
Wang was driving west on Colima Road, east of Allenton Avenue, when she proceeded to make a left turn at a green light onto Allenton Avenue. Verduzco entered the intersection, failed to stop and collided with Wang.
Both Wang and Wong suffered from major and minor injuries, and Ariana Lee was taken to Whittier Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead from injuries caused by the collision.
The accident is still under investigation by the Santa Fe Springs CHP area office. Any witnesses are encouraged to contact Officer Al Perez at (562) 868-0503