A Lompoc woman must stand trial in the death of a pedestrian last summer on West Ocean Avenue, a Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge ruled Monday after a preliminary hearing.

Raquel Zapata, a 42-year-old Lompoc mother of two, was killed when she was struck by a car while crossing West Ocean Avenue in Lompoc last year. (Zapata family photo)
Raquel Zapata, a 42-year-old Lompoc mother of two, was killed when she was struck by a car while crossing West Ocean Avenue in Lompoc last year. (Zapata family photo)

The defendant — 32-year-old Angela Rose Cline — was charged following the July 30, 2022, collision that killed Raquel Zapata as the 42-year-old Lompoc mother of two walked across the street.

At approximately 1:50 a.m., Lompoc police and firefighters responded to the 600 block of West Ocean Avenue where they found a woman in the roadway who apparently had been struck by a vehicle.

Under the first amended complaint, Cline was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing injury, and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death or serious injury. She also faces a sentencing enhancement.

A preliminary hearing involves the prosecuting attorney presenting evidence so a judge can determine whether probable cause exists for a defendant to stand trial on the criminal charges.

Zapata had activated flashing crosswalk lights before she began crossing the street at the well-lit intersection, according to surveillance video from a nearby business.

A breathalyzer test revealed Cline’s blood alcohol content at 0.14%, although the defense attorney asked a police officer about initial troubles turning on the machine to raise doubts about the device’s condition.

After allegedly striking Zapata, Cline drove to a nearby 7-Eleven and parked her vehicle. She walked back to the scene, but returned to the convenience store after officers ordered people to get out of the street.

Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagner said Cline only spoke up about being the driver involved in the crash after Officer Alex Justice noted the damage on the right front side of the vehicle parked at 7-Eleven.

But Cline’s attorney, Marianne Zawadzki, asked Justice whether he had questioned the store clerk about the crash or directed his query more generally to those at the store, noting his report referred only to checking with the clerk.

Zawadzki also confirmed the lack of on-street parking and suggested the driver went to the convenience store as the safest place to stop her vehicle.

“It would have been the first available driveway, correct?” Zawadzki asked, with Justice responding “Yes, ma’am.”

Cline told varying stories to officers after the incident.

“She admitted to driving, but denied being the cause of the fatality, indicating she believed someone struck the pedestrian first,” Cpl. Robert Dugfan said.

Zapata had walked across one lane when she fell, with Officer Eric Andreasen estimating she had traveled 26 feet into the street when she was hit.

The victim was in lying down when the vehicle struck her, but police don’t know why she fell, suspecting she lost a shoe or tripped over her dog, Andreasen testified.

A glass pipe used for drugs was found near the victim, and toxicology testing revealed Zapata had fentanyl and methamphetamine in her system.

Zawadzki argued that Cline’s actions did not amount to gross negligence, and urged Judge Stephen Foley to instead hold her to answer to a vehicular manslaughter charge.

Wagner disagreed.

“It’s her conduct post 7-Eleven that is most alarming,” he said in arguing for serious charges.

Foley noted mixed evidence regarding the charge for fleeing the scene of an accident. While Cline parked nearby, she still remained silent initially about her role.

“It’s clear to the court all she had to do was tell officers she was the driver and she didn’t,” Foley said, adding that Cline would be held to answer to all three charges.

Foley also ordered her be taken into custody after she was cited for driving on a suspended license, driving without insurance and speeding on May 27 of this year.

According to court documents, Cline was cited for driving 82 mph in a 55 mph zone on Highway 154.

Foley said the circumstances of Cline’s newest citation raised concerns about public safety.

He set bail at $100,000, and said he would revisit it during a Wednesday hearing.

Cline’s arraignment on the information in Zapata’s death will occur July 19.