The crash occurred on Santa Margarita Parkway just north of Los Alisos Boulevard at about 11:40 p.m. Tuesday, according to authorities. Witnesses say a driver at the wheel of a Ford F-250 pickup truck was traveling south on northbound Santa Margarita Parkway and crashed head-on with a minivan.
The mother driving the minivan, identified as 36-year-old Ana Martinez of Trabuco Canyon, was pronounced dead at the scene. The wrong-way driver, identified as 42-year-old William Carroll of Mission Viejo, was taken to an area hospital in critical condition.
Martinez's three children are between 7 and 14 years old.
Carroll has a prior conviction for driving under the influence. Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino said formal tests are pending, but other evidence points to DUI.
"Based on objective symptoms and investigators did detect the odor of alcohol at the scene, the driver appeared to be impaired," Amormino said.
Northbound Santa Margarita Boulevard was closed from Los Alisos Boulevard to El Toro Road for police investigation.