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Laura Cleaves Memorial Service to be Held Thursday

Senior DA investigator died Friday in head-on crash with alleged drunken driver.

The memorial service for Laura Cleaves, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office senior investigator killed in a head-on collision with a suspected drunken driver, has been scheduled for Thursday in Santa Maria.

The service will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday at Pacific Christian Center, 3435 Santa Maria Way.

Cleaves was killed in a head-on crash around midnight May 1 on Highway 154 in Santa Ynez, the victim of an alleged drunk driver. The case is currently under investigation.

A county law enforcement officer for 24 years, Cleaves was known for her expertise in complex white-collar criminal cases and child abductions. She led several high-profile investigations, most recently the Orson Moses grand theft adoption and fraud case.

Cleaves was an expert horsewoman, training the Sheriff’s Department’s mounted unit, and working with a therapeutic riding academy as well as the Girl Scouts.

According to Chief District Attorney’s Investigator Dave Saunders, she was a powerful role model of “courage, confidence and solid character.” At the same time, he said, she was the person who would bring her home cooking to work to share and would decorate her Santa Ynez home to the nines every Christmas and then open it up to the public.

“She definitely made the world a better place,” he said.

Cleaves’ husband, Steve, is a sergeant with the Sheriff’s Department and they have two adult daughters, Krista and Kelly.


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