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Coroner: Women Struck and Killed on Highway 154 Had Drugs in Systems

Pedestrians Sara Ornelas, 54, of Santa Barbara, and Barbara Romero , 49, of Lompoc, died after being struck by vehicles

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper | updated logo 1:05 p.m. |

Law enforcement officials have confirmed that two women who were struck and killed in a bizarre incident on Highway 154 last month did have drugs in their systems — including methadone and amphetamines — at the time of their deaths.

Sara Ornelas, 54, of Santa Barbara, and Barbara Romero , 49, of Lompoc, were killed Dec. 21 on Highway 154 after being struck by vehicles driving on the road.

At the time, the women had driven over San Marcos Pass from Santa Barbara en route to the Chumash Indian Reservation in Santa Ynez when they pulled over near the entrance to Rancho San Marcos Golf Course at about 11:45 p.m., Santa Barbara County sheriff’s Lt. Butch Arnoldi told Noozhawk at the time.

A small dog that was with them jumped out of the car and into the roadway, where it was struck and killed by a vehicle, Arnoldi said. One of the women ran into the road in pursuit of the dog, and also was struck, he said.

The second woman went to the aid of her companion and was struck multiple times, Arnoldi said. Both women were later declared dead at the scene, and the California Highway Patrol initially said alcohol and drugs did not appear to be factors in the accident.

A cross has been placed along Highway 154 where two women were killed late last month when they were struck by vehicles. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)
A cross has been placed along Highway 154 where two women were killed late last month when they were struck by vehicles. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

But on Friday, sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Williams said toxicology results revealed that Ornelas had methadone in her system, as well as metabolites that could be linked to morphine or codeine, as well as cocaine and heroin.

Romero’s results also revealed she was under the influence of amphetamine, methamphetamine, methadone and metabolites that could be linked to codeine, heroin or morphine.

Williams told Noozhawk that the drugs are not listed as the official cause of the death in the cases, but what was found in their bodies at the time.

The CHP is continuing to investigate the incident.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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