Monday, February 8 , 2016, 2:56 am | Fair 48º

Victims’ Identities, Circumstances of Deaths Released in Highway 154 Collision Involving Loose Dog

By Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor | @tombol | updated logo 5:30 p.m. |

A grim series of events that apparently began with a loose dog led to the deaths of two local women on Highway 154 late Friday, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

The victims — identified Sunday as Sara Ornelas, 54, of Santa Barbara, and Barbara Romero , 49, of Lompoc — had driven over San Marcos Pass from Santa Barbara en route to the Chumash Indian Reservation in Santa Ynez when they pulled over to relieve themselves near the entrance to Rancho San Marcos Golf Course at about 11:45 p.m. Friday, said sheriff’s Lt. Butch Arnoldi, a department spokesman.

A small dog that was with them jumped out the car and ran 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.

One of the victims apparently was struck by an eastbound Toyota Yaris driven by Karen Gong, 45, of Oak View, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The other victim apparently was struck by a westbound Ford E-250 van driven by Martin Macarena, 48, of San Luis Obispo, the CHP said.

Macarena was later located at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, and was arrested on suspicion of felony hit and run causing injuries, the CHP said.

Gong and a third driver, Ma Guadalupe, 41 of Oxnard, stopped immediately at the scene, the CHP said. They were not cited.

Alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors in the accident, the CHP said.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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.

» on 12.24.12 @ 06:50 PM

So let’s see:  two women got out of their car to “relieve themselves”, allowed their dog to escape the car, then ran into traffic after the dead dog and were hit and killed.  And alcohol/drugs wasn’t a factor?  How about IQ?

» on 12.25.12 @ 02:46 AM

Pulled over to “relieve” themselves?  Sounds a bit odd to me.  How far from anywhere else were they going?

» on 12.25.12 @ 05:27 AM

Wow this is sad and tragic but my eyebrows are raised by this ” stopping to relieve themselves” ... How on earth does anybody know this? The police surely arrived after the accidents, other drivers could not have seen the prelude to the hits unless everyone was driving incredibly slowly. This sounds like assumptions although it DOES provide an answer to the obvious question: how ever did the little dog manage to exit the car?
The family of one woman was on KEYT and the pain in their faces is too evident. Drive safely this holiday season, please, everyone!

» on 12.25.12 @ 12:19 PM

Really John Locke?
We think that alcohol and drugs were definitely a factor in your abysmally cruel commenting here.  Stop with the drinking and commenting here.

» on 12.25.12 @ 03:41 PM

Wrong conclusion on your part, but I figured I’d lure a comment like yours. Yes, I’m a terrible person in your view, but come on, look at the facts.  Were these intelligent actions? How old were you when you learned to look both ways before crossing the street? Or is there no cure for stupid, as a recent columnist suggested?  This might be a good story for the Darwin awards.

» on 12.25.12 @ 06:17 PM

I don’t think you’re a terrible person, John Locke, but I do think your comment was heartless and even cruel. I’d guess no one knows why the women stopped, but it is probable their little dog jumped out of the car and just about any dog owner would try to save their dog—- and any friend would try to save a friend. If anything, the women suffered from too much kindness. (I wonder if it is also actually known that they were headed to the Casino; one of the women lived in Lompoc and perhaps was headed home.)

» on 12.26.12 @ 11:31 AM

This is a tragic situation all the way around. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the ladies who passed passed away. It would be nice if the people commenting on here might put some thought into what they say before hitting the enter button because I’m sure the friends and family of the ladies might be reading these same comments. There’s no need to be making personal attacks on the victims I.Q.
Thank You

» on 12.26.12 @ 01:09 PM

OK. My apologies for a heartless comment.

» on 12.26.12 @ 01:13 PM

@john Locke….you do seem to enjoy making cruel comments. perhaps it helps you to ease personal afflictions, but in any event its really uncalled for.

» on 12.26.12 @ 02:22 PM

So much for following the rules.  Pretty sure insinuations count as personal attacks, grundss.  Try refraining from reasoning why a person comments the way the do, and question the comment itself.

As for subject at hand:  I, too, question whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the decision (or lack thereof) to run into traffic, late on a Friday night.  However tragic this may be, it doesn’t make sense for one person to chase a dead dog, get hit, then be followed by another person after seeing what just happened.  Pick up a cell phone, go to a call box.  Don’t run into the highway.  God rest em, but you have to use your head.

» on 12.26.12 @ 06:57 PM

Thanks, John Locke.

And SBDude, would that we all would behave sensibly. Certainly faced with an immediate horror, as that must have been, to hunt for a call box or even cellphone, if one carries one - I don’t usually, for instance - might be sensible but unlikely if one thought one could help a friend. Or even just help: I once saved a child from apparent drowning without thinking of the cost to me. (Other than ruined clothes, there was none.) I assume others would do similarly.

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