Rancho park homicide victim identified

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Crime scene tape surrounds the entrance to Rancho San Antonio County Park where Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office deputies pinned a homicide suspect’s car to subdue it Tuesday afternoon. The suspect, Mireya Orta, 50, is accused of killing a pedestrian by ramming her car into the person and injuring another pedestrian at a separate location in the park in the same manner.

Updated, 12:10 p.m., Tuesday: A Santa Clara woman is being held without bail following the death of an elderly man officials say she repeatedly drove over with her car at Rancho San Antonio County Park. Another victim suffered minor injuries. 

Mireya Orta, 50, is charged with murder, attempted murder and resisting an officer following the Oct. 1 attack at the Cupertino park, which borders Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Law enforcement officials believe she repeatedly drove her Audi into Sunnyvale resident Lawrence Lupash, 77, and then attempted to hit another pedestrian at a separate location in the park.

Deputies responded to the park at approximately 12:42 p.m. to investigate the disturbance, according to a statement of facts the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office submitted to the District Attorney’s Office.

“A witness observed a black sedan hit a man walking on a trail. The driver of the sedan intentionally reversed and drove back and forth over the man’s body multiple times,” according to the document.

Mireya Orta

The Audi then traveled along the Permanente Creek Trail and swerved as the driver attempted to strike another hiker who had to dive to the ground and hide behind an oak tree to avoid being hit, the document said. That victim sustained abrasions to his hands. The Audi also rammed into a deputy’s patrol vehicle near the park exit onto Cristo Rey Drive, but a second patrol vehicle was able to box in the Audi to contain it.

Deputies and Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District rangers administered CPR to Lupash, who was in critical condition when transported to Stanford Hospital, and he ultimately died. Medical personnel treated the other victim at the scene. Orta was taken to Valley Medical Center as a precaution and then jail.

The incident caused the closure of the park for the remainder of the day.

A perceived motive for the crimes had not been divulged by the Town Crier’s deadline Monday.

“Our detectives are still actively working to determine if there was any relationship or connection between the suspect and the victims,” Sgt. Michael Low wrote in an email to the Town Crier sent last week.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (408) 808-4500. To remain anonymous, call the tip line at (408) 808-4431.

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