An aide to Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, was charged with felony DUI and hit-and-run early Friday in an incident that left a 27-year-old Santa Barbara woman hospitalized in critical condition.
Raymond Victor Morua, 32, of Santa Barbara, was arrested by Santa Barbara police officers following the crash, which occurred shortly after midnight in the 500 block of Anacapa Street, where the victim was crossing the street, Sgt. Riley Harwood said.
Late Friday afternoon, Harwood confirmed the victim’s identity as Mallory Rae Dies.
Details on her condition were not available, Harwood said, but a CaringBridge web page has been set up for her, and has been providing regular updates.
The collision occurred after Morua had left a downtown party hosted by the Santa Barbara Independent, where he reported he had been drinking, Harwood said.
Morua, a prominent local veteran, is a district representative for Capps and an advocate for veterans issues.
“I am truly heartbroken at the news of this tragic event,” Capps said in a statement issued Friday. “My heart goes out to the victim and her family and friends in this trying time, and my prayers are with them.
“It would be inappropriate for me to comment further on this legal matter and I have complete trust in our local authorities.”
Marianne Partridge, editor-in-chief and co-founder of the Independent, also commented on the incident.
“We’re terribly saddened to hear this and our thoughts are with the woman’s family,” she said.
Partridge confirmed that the Independent had hosted a party at The Savoy nightclub until 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, but said the event had ended long before Morua reportedly left the venue at 409 State St.
She also stated that the newspaper’s party had included a no-host bar.
Morua allegedly was driving a red Dodge Caliber, and was leaving the holiday party at The Savoy, Harwood said.
Dies was walking east across Anacapa when she was hit, Harwood said. Although she was not in the marked crosswalk, he said she was crossing legally because of the positioning of the street’s signalized traffic lights.
Harwood said Morua was traveling southbound “at a high rate of speed” in the right lane of the one-way street when he struck Dies, knocking her to the ground.
She sustained “significant head trauma” after hitting the pavement, he said.
Dies was taken by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where she was being treated for life-threatening injuries.
Immediately after the collision, Harwood said, the driver of the vehicle stopped, looked at the pedestrian from his car, and then fled the scene.
He said witnesses followed the car two blocks to where Anacapa Street dead-ends at Highway 101, where the driver stopped.
Harwood said witnesses tried to convince the man to return to the scene of collision, but he “shook his head” and drove away.
Morua allegedly turned onto East Gutierrez Street and then turned south on State Street, driving under the freeway to Cabrillo Boulevard.
“At the intersection of State and Cabrillo, he tried to turn westbound at a high rate of speed and subsequently collided with a palm tree,” Harwood said.
Police quickly arrived at the crash site near the Dolphin Fountain at the foot of Stearns Wharf.
Harwood said Morua was found to be intoxicated, and provided a breath sample that showed a blood-alcohol content of .17, more than twice the legal limit at which a driver is presumed to be drunk.
Morua also provided a blood sample, the results of which were not yet available.
He was arrested for felony DUI, felony hit and run, as well as a second DUI charge, a misdemeanor, because he crashed with the palm tree, Harwood said.
Morua was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $100,000, but Harwood said police are asking that the bail be increased to $250,000.
According to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, Morua remained in custody Friday afternoon.
Dies works as a bartender at Tonic Nightclub, 634 State St., and owner Asaf Dimant provided this statement to Noozhawk on Friday night:
“Tonic Nightclub will be closed tonight, Friday, Dec. 6, so that our staff, managers and owners can support a key team and family member who was hit by a car late last night and is currently in critical condition and fighting for her life in a hospital bed.
“We hope you can help us by keeping her in your thoughts and in your heart, and send your hopes and prayers for her recovery.
“We apologize for the late notice and hope you understand. We will be open tomorrow night at 8 p.m. for our annual Winter Wonderland White Party.
“We hope that tonight you take a second, hug and kiss those closest to you, and remember how fragile our lives are, and how short our time on this earth can be.”
— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.