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Drunken Driver Pleads Guilty in Death of Santa Barbara Runner

Carolyn Samuels was struck in August 2008 on Las Positas Road while with a Team in Training group

The driver of a van that struck and killed a Santa Barbara runner in August 2008 along Las Positas Road pleaded guilty Thursday to vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run and multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

Carolyn Samuels, 66, of Santa Barbara, was running with a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training group on Aug. 30, 2008, on Las Positas near the intersection of Richelle Lane toward Arroyo Burro Beach.

Santa Barbara police said Gregory Doan, 58, driving a 1995 Chevy full-size cargo van, was southbound on Las Positas as he approached the group of 20 runners. The runners saw the van approaching and started getting out of the way.

Samuels and another runner moved up a small embankment, police said. The van took the same course and struck Samuels, then proceeded down Las Positas before stopping.

Samuels was alive at the scene, friends said, but died later of her injuries at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. No other runners were hit or injured.

The runners told police that Doan got out of his van after the collision, made a few statements, and then got back in the vehicle and tried to start it. Members of the running team detained him until police arrived.

Officers said Doan displayed symptoms of being under the influence of alcohol. A blood sample taken about 2½ hours after the crash registered a blood-alcohol level of .21, plus evidence of heroin use. Police found empty vodka bottles inside his van. More bottles, heroin and syringes were recovered inside his residence.

Officer Mark Hunt, an SBPD traffic accident investigator, said Doan had four drunken-driving convictions from 1992 to 1998.

Doan faces 10 years in prison for manslaughter, five years for felony hit-and-run, a year each for assault with a deadly weapon for each of the other 19 runners, and a one-year enhancement because of aggravated circumstances.

Samuels was an accomplished long-distance runner who had participated in several marathons, including the Boston Marathon.

Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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