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Local News

Victims’ Identities, Circumstances of Deaths Released in Highway 154 Collision Involving Loose Dog

A grim series of events that apparently began with a loose dog led to the deaths of two local women on Highway 154 late Friday, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

The victims — identified Sunday as Sara Ornelas, 54, of Santa Barbara, and Barbara Romero , 49, of Lompoc — had driven over San Marcos Pass from Santa Barbara en route to the Chumash Indian Reservation in Santa Ynez when they pulled over to relieve themselves near the entrance to Rancho San Marcos Golf Course at about 11:45 p.m. Friday, said sheriff’s Lt. Butch Arnoldi, a department spokesman.

A small dog that was with them jumped out the car and ran into the roadway, where it was struck and killed by a vehicle, Arnoldi said.

One of the women ran into the road in pursuit of the dog, and also was struck, he said.

The second woman went to the aid of her companion, and was struck multiple times, Arnoldi said.

Both women were later declared dead at the scene.

One of the victims apparently was struck by an eastbound Toyota Yaris driven by Karen Gong, 45, of Oak View, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The other victim apparently was struck by a westbound Ford E-250 van driven by Martin Macarena, 48, of San Luis Obispo, the CHP said.

Macarena was later located at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, and was arrested on suspicion of felony hit and run causing injuries, the CHP said.

Gong and a third driver, Ma Guadalupe, 41 of Oxnard, stopped immediately at the scene, the CHP said. They were not cited.

Alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors in the accident, the CHP 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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