An 18-year-old driver is facing manslaughter and drug charges stemming from an incident last November in which his vehicle struck and fatally injured a woman who was pushing a stroller across a Goleta street.
Kincaid Siega Orosco has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and two felony counts related to the transportation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, which recently filed charges after an extensive investigation.
Shuguang Lui, 59, of Beijing was killed in the Nov. 11, 2013, collision that left a 20-month-old Goleta boy in critical condition.
Lui was related to the toddler but was not his mother, according to Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
According to authorities, Orosco was westbound on Cathedral Oaks at about 5:20 p.m. when his Volkswagen Passat struck Lui, who had been pushing a stroller across the street at Santa Marguerita Drive, near Goleta Valley Junior High School.
Lui was pronounced dead at the scene, and the critically injured toddler was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, Hoover said.
The complaint against Orosco alleged that he acted “without malice” and “without gross negligence” when he failed to yield to Lui as a pedestrian in a crosswalk, causing her death.
Orosco, who was not taken into custody, will be arraigned on the charges March 7 in Santa Barbara Superior Court, according to Deputy District Attorney Mary Barron.
Vehicular manslaughter is punishable by up to a year in county jail, and another two to four years in state prison or county jail could be tacked on if Orosco is convicted of the drug charges, Barron said.
If found guilty of either drug charge, Orosco’s driving privileges would also be suspended because he is under the age of 21, she said.
Barron explained that the difference between misdemeanor and felony vehicular manslaughter deals with the higher degree of recklessness.
“It depends on the level of negligence,” she told Noozhawk. “Gross vehicular manslaughter is a greater degree of negligence … and involves more than ordinary carelessness.”
To prove the misdemeanor, she said, prosecutors must merely show that a defendant committed an infraction, which, in this case, would be failing to yield for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
At the Santa Marguerita Drive intersection on Wednesday, crews were still working to construct new flashing, pedestrian-activated lights at a crossing that has historically caused concern among parents of students at nearby Goleta Valley Junior High.
The project — a culmination of efforts from Goleta officials and community members — was slated to be complete sometime in March, according to city staff.
The criminal complaint against Orosco notably does not mention the critically injured toddler, but that will likely change, Barron said.
Although prosecutors initially thought a similar misdemeanor charge for the toddler's injury did not exist, Barron said the DA's office plans to re-file the complaint to include another charge, unsafe operation of motor vehicle with bodily injury or great bodily injury.
That infraction charge carries no custody time, but would involve a $95 fine, she said.