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Orcutt Man Faces Felony Charges For Fatal Crash With Motorcyclist in July

Motorcyclist Mario Coria-Gonzalez of Santa Maria was killed July 17 in a crash on Santa Maria Way in Orcutt.
Motorcyclist Mario Coria-Gonzalez of Santa Maria was killed July 17 in a crash on Santa Maria Way in Orcutt.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk file photo)

A driver involved in a fatal crash that killed a motorcyclist in July faces three felony charges including vehicular manslaughter with an allegation his blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.

Garrett D. Alford, 31, of Orcutt, was charged in connection with the July 17 crash on Santa Maria Way near Bradley Road.

In addition to vehicular manslaughter, Alford has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury and driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit of .08 percent.

He also faces numerous special allegations including causing great bodily injury and having a blood alcohol content above .15 percent and more. 

Authorities alleged Alford has a blood alcohol level of .19. 

The crash occurred about 8:20 p.m. July 17 in the 3400 block of Santa Maria Way, near the Pacific Christian Center and the Bradley Road intersection.

The westbound motorcycle struck the Nissan Pathfinder that was turning left into an apartment complex driveway. The motorcycle slammed into the front passenger door of the Nissan, ejecting the rider.

The motorcyclist, Mario Coria-Gonzalez, 22, of Santa Maria, was declared dead the scene. 

Alford was arrested after the collision but released without charges being filed while authorities completed their investigation into the incident. 

He appeared in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Wednesday morning alongside his defense attorney, Michael Scott, who sought to keep his client free on his own recognizance.

The defendant has been free on his own recognizance as long as he attended three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, which Scott said should continue. 

While Alford has no prior convictions, he did received a citation for marijuana, but completed a diversion program in 2011, Scott added.

Alford has sole custody of his three children, is gainfully employed and has strong ties to the community, Scott said, adding his client has refrained from drinking or driving.

However, Deputy District Attorney Anne Nudson argued for bail of $150,000. 

"The No. 1 consideration in terms of bail is public safety," Nudson said. Without conditions imposed as part of release, she said, authorities have no confirmation Alford has followed the rules to avoid drinking.

"I can't think of something that's a bigger danger to public safety than someone who was driving at a .19 and killed someone on the road," Nudson said, noting another man died in the crash.

While valid at the time of the crash, Alford's driver's license was previously suspended from July 2015 to February 2016, Nudson added.

Scott said his client has not had law enforcement contact in the months since the crash and appeared in court as ordered months after the crash when the District Attorney's Office sent a letter advising charges had been filed.

"He's come to court as required since then," Scott said. 

Judge Gustavo Lavayen agreed to grant conditions included in a pre-trial report, such as requiring Alford to wear an electronic alcohol monitor, avoid operating a motor vehicle, and not consuming alcohol or illegal substances. The defendant also was ordered to undergo testing for drugs and alcohol. 

Lavayen ordered Alford to return Jan. 18 for setting a date for the preliminary hearing.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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