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Driver Faces Manslaughter Charge in Collision That Killed Elderly Pedestrian in Santa Barbara

Arraignment is scheduled next month for a driver who is facing a manslaughter charge after allegedly running down and fatally injuring an elderly pedestrian in a downtown Santa Barbara crosswalk.

Lawrence Forgione, 65, has been charged with one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter, according to Lee Carter of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office.

Forgione, who does not live locally, was driving a small SUV on the 500 block of State Street at about 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 when he allegedly ran a red light at a mid-block crosswalk as Gilbert William Ramirez, 90, of Santa Barbara, was crossing the street, according to Santa Barbara police.

Police said that Forgione may have been distracted by a mapping device at the time of the collision.

Ramirez suffered critical injuries, and was taken by AMR ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he passed away the next day.

Raminez was an avid dancer who frequented downtown bars including the James Joyce, The Red Piano Bar, and the Wildcat Lounge.

Forgione is a chef and was a culinary icon in the 1970s and '80s.

He is known for his work at the An American Place restaurant in New York City, and is the co-founder and director of the Conservatory for American Food Studies at The Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley.

He has been described as the "godfather of American cuisine."

After the collision, Forgione was also cited for a California Vehicle Code violation — failing to stop for a traffic signal at a mid-block crosswalk, according to Carter.

Forgione remained at the scene after the collision, and reportedly was cooperative with investigating officers.

He was not taken into custody or booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail, according to Anthony Wagner, a police department spokesman.

He has been ordered to appear in Santa Barbara Superior Court for arraignment on April 9, Carter 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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