Janet Carroll remembers saying goodbye to Allison Meadows and Lindsay Keebler on Tuesday night as they headed out together to downtown Santa Barbara.
It was about 9:30 p.m., Carroll recalled, and Meadows, who had lived with Carroll at her Eastside home the last few months, made a point of saying they were taking a taxi so they wouldn’t have to get behind the wheel if they were drinking.
“The last thing I said when she walked out of the house was, ‘I love you and be safe,’” a tearful Carroll said Thursday afternoon as she placed flowers along East Valley Road in Montecito.
Carroll brought the bouquet, picked from her garden, to mark the location where the two young women were walking early Wednesday when they were struck by an apparent hit-and-run driver.
Meadows, 26, suffered massive head injuries and died shortly after being brought to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in a private vehicle by two men whom the California Highway Patrol described as “good Samaritans.”
Keebler, 25, was seriously injured and remained hospitalized Thursday.
What remains a mystery is what transpired between the time the two women left Carroll’s house and when they ended up at the emergency room about eight hours later.
“I have no idea what they would have been doing way out here,” Carroll said.
The incident occurred between 5 and 5:30 a.m., according to CHP Officer Javier Garcia. Apparently, no 9-1-1 calls were made to report the incident.
The CHP has been tight-lipped about the case, refusing to provide Noozhawk with any information throughout the day Wednesday before issuing a brief statement to the media late Wednesday.
Garcia said Thursday afternoon that additional information likely would not be released until after the weekend.
The accident occurred on East Valley Road, near the intersection of Stonehouse Lane east of Sheffield Drive. Painted orange marks, placed there by CHP investigators who collected evidence at the scene, were visible Thursday along a roughly 100-yard stretch of roadway and the dirt shoulder.
The road is straight and relatively flat in that section, and has no sidewalks or streetlights, which is typical of Montecito, especially its semi-rural eastern end. Traffic moves through briskly, and an occasional vehicle barrels down the road.
Meadows, who worked as a receptionist at Issels Cancer Treatment Center in the 1500 block of State Street, was described in glowing terms by those who knew her.
“She was a really loving person,” said Vanessa Keyes, whose husband, Dr. Christian Issels, employed Meadows. “She was always about forgiveness.”
Meadows’ mother, Lynn Rivera, lives in Arizona, but has been staying with Keyes in her home on Santa Barbara’s Mesa, where Meadows also lived for a time. Meadows’ stepfather, Roger Rivera, lives in town, Keyes said.
The two families have been friends for years, and Keyes said she had known Meadows since she was a child.
“She was beloved by everyone,” Keyes said, “including our employees and patients.”
Carroll said she had only known Meadows for a few months, but already they had become close.
“She was just a bright light in everyone’s life,” she said. “Neither one of us ever left the house without saying goodbye and I love you.”
Paul Avolio, president and founder of Latitude 34˚ Technologies in Goleta, said Keebler has worked for his company for more than a year, and that he has been in touch with her family.
“I think that she’s going to be OK,” he told Noozhawk. “That’s as much as I’ve heard.”
Investigators are still asking for the public’s help in the investigation. Anyone with knowledge about the incident or a possible suspect vehicle is asked to call CHP Officers Jason Miller or Jim Hoskins at 805.967.1234.