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Local News

Murrieta Man Arrested in Hit-Run Death of Simon Chavez

Lau Van Huynh, 78, booked on $1 million bail in connection with Jan. 15 fatal accident on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara

A 78-year-old Southern California man was arrested Saturday as the suspected driver in a hit-and-run accident on Highway 101 earlier this month that killed a former Santa Barbara High School baseball coach.

Lau Van Huynh
Lau Van Huynh

Lau Van Huynh of Murrieta in Riverside County was charged with felony hit and run, and hit and run with fatal injuries, according to California Highway Patrol Officer James Richards.

Huynh was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on Saturday with bail set at $1 million.

Authorities believe Huynh was the driver of a white 2011 Hyundai Tucson that struck and killed Simon Chavez, 22, of Santa Barbara, about 1 a.m. Jan. 15 on southbound Highway 101 near the Ortega Street footbridge.

Before Chavez was struck, several witnesses reported that he was staggering in traffic on the freeway, according to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover. Santa Barbara police and CHP officers found Chavez dead when they arrived just minutes later.

The motorist who hit Chavez had fled the scene, but investigators determined the car had contact damage to the driver’s-side front and side. Its driver’s-side door mirror was located in the traffic lanes.

“During the on-scene investigation, officers located items of evidentiary value, which included assorted vehicle parts and debris,” Richards said Saturday. “Though combined CHP investigative measures, which included officers assigned to the Border Division Investigative Services Unit and the Temecula CHP Area, the 2011 Hyundai Tucson involved in the collision was located.”

Investigators served a search warrant at an address in Murrieta on Thursday, and located the vehicle they believe was involved in the accident, Richards said.

It has not been determined if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the accident, said Richards, adding that the investigation was ongoing and additional arrests were expected.

Further information was expected to be released at a news conference early next week in Santa Barbara, he 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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