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Friday, January 18 , 2019, 1:08 am | Fair 51º


CHP Seeking Driver of Vehicle That Struck, Severely Injured Pedestrian in Montecito

2 Minnesota men who were passengers in the car were arrested on conspiracy, drug charges

A Chevrolet Impala struck and severely injured a pedestrian in Montecito on Tuesday afternoon. In the foreground is a handgun wrapped in a sock that reportedly was discarded by the driver, who fled and remained at large Wednesday night. Click to view larger
A Chevrolet Impala struck and severely injured a pedestrian in Montecito on Tuesday afternoon. In the foreground is a handgun wrapped in a sock that reportedly was discarded by the driver, who fled and remained at large Wednesday night. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

Investigators believe they know the identity of the driver who struck and critically injured a pedestrian in Montecito on Tuesday while fleeing from police, but the suspect remained at large Wednesday night.

The California Highway Patrol, which is investigating the crash, has not released the name of the likely suspect.

A CHP Investigative Service Unit was called in from Southern California to review and process all the evidence in the case, according to Officer Jonathan Gutierrez.

There is a “very strong possibility” investigators have determined who was driving the white Chevrolet Impala when it careened around the corner of Butterfly Lane from Channel Drive and struck Jennifer Jan Jenson, 58, of Conover, North Carolina at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, Gutierrez said.

Jenson, who was walking with two friends along the west roadway edge, suffered major injuries, and was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

She was listed in critical condition Thursday afternoon.

The incident occurred as the Impala was being pursued by Ventura Police Department officers, who observed the vehicle driving erratically on southbound Highway 101, Gutierrez said.

Two passengers in the Impala — Diamonte Markel Hickerson, 25, of Newport, Minnesota, and Justyn DeSean Sanders, 26, of Maplewood, Minnesota — were arrested after the crash on suspicion of conspiracy and possession of marijuana for sale, Gutierrez said.

Marijuana was found in the trunk of the vehicle, which crashed into a wall on the east side of the roadway.

Nickerson and Sanders remained in Santa Barbara County Jail Wednesday night in lieu of $50,000 bail each.

The driver fled on foot, and personnel from several agencies conducted an extensive search for him Tuesday night.

He was described as a black male in his 30s, approximately 5-foot-9, wearing a white shirt and shorts.

One person was taken into custody on Highway 101 in Carpinteria as a “person of interest,” but was determined not to be the suspect, Gutierrez said.

A shirt believed to belong to the suspect was located on the Music Academy of the West campus, and a handgun wrapped in a sock was recovered on the ground near the crash scene.

The Ventura Police Department asked the CHP to conduct the investigation into the crash, Gutierrez 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.

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