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Motorist Accused in Hit-and-Run Had 7 Tickets

Costa Mesa man had two drunk-driving arrests. Victim is in extremely critical condition.

January 24, 2006|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

A 26-year-old motorist accused of running down and critically injuring a former high school football coach at an Aliso Viejo shopping center has been ticketed seven times in recent years, including speeding violations and drunk-driving arrests.

Morteza Bakhtiari of Costa Mesa is being held at Orange County Jail on $1-million bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned today in Newport Beach on suspicion of attempted murder, hit-and-run driving and filing a false police report.

Authorities said Bakhtiari ran down John Royston, 41, of Aliso Viejo on Thursday at a shopping center where Royston was having a late dinner with friends.

Royston yelled at the driver to slow down after he spotted the car speeding through the Aliso Viejo Town Center parking lot and running a stop sign, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Witnesses said the driver then struck a parked car, spun around and sped toward Royston and his friends, fishtailing as he barreled toward them, Amormino said.

Royston was struck and thrown about 30 feet, Amormino said.

Bakhtiari's silver BMW was later spotted in Mission Viejo. He was arrested the next day after he tried to report his car stolen. Investigators said his passenger had already surrendered by that time.

On Monday, Royston remained in extremely critical condition in a medically induced coma at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. Royston, a loan officer and a former coach at Santa Margarita High School, is married with three children.

Also Monday, a judge ordered the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend Bakhtiari's license for failing to appear on a 2005 ticket for speeding and not carrying car insurance.

According to DMV records, Bakhtiari was convicted in June 2000 in San Bernardino County for drunken driving and possession of marijuana. He was convicted of drunken driving a second time in December 2001 and was ticketed for speeding in March and again in September.

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