A 17-year-old male was arrested for striking and killing a bicyclist in a stolen car at approximately 5:45 a.m. on Saturday in Goleta.
The victim, 58-year-old Antonio Guerca, was riding eastbound on Hollister Avenue at Pine Avenue when he was hit from behind, causing major head and chest injuries. Guerca died at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital soon after his arrival.
The intoxicated teen, whose name was not released because of his age, stole a pickup truck from a Goleta business and drove it through an iron gate onto the road, California Highway Patrol officer Mike de Silva said.
“The gate was closed and locked – he hit the gate with such force, it ripped out,” he said. “While on Castillian, [the suspect] sideswiped a parked vehicle. As Mr. Guerca passed Pine Ave., the stolen white pick-up truck struck him from behind. … The juvenile fled the scene of the collision. After leaving the scene, the juvenile abandoned the stolen pickup at Arroyo Burro Beach and was walking on Cliff Drive when he was picked up by a ‘good Samaritan’ driver at approximately 6:15 a.m.”
Due to the suspect’s level of intoxication and the statements he provided, the driver called the CHP after dropping the juvenile off at his residence.
“[An] officer checked the area where the juvenile was picked up and located a pickup with consistent front end damage abandoned on the Arroyo Burro Beach parking lot,” de Silva said.
The suspect was located at his residence and arrested. He was booked into Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall on charges of felony gross manslaughter while intoxicated, felony hit and run, felony car theft, felony possession of stolen property and misdemeanor hit and run.
“The felony hit and run is one that causes injury or death,” de Silva said. “The misdemeanor was for the parked car. … Those are the initial charges – there could be more that come up later as the investigation continues.”
De Silva said the blood alcohol level of the suspect at the time of the accident has not yet been determined, but regardless of the outcome, he will be charged with the felony hit and run.
“We’re talking about a 58-year-old man on the way to work at a nursery, within the bike lane, with his lights on,” he said. “I have no words to describe what I felt the morning when it was discovered, but I’m glad the person who caused the accident was apprehended.”