Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

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Update by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office
November 30, 2021

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced today that a felony complaint has been filed against Raul Gonzalez, 48, of Santa Barbara.  All charges stem from a collision on November 27, 2021, at E. Cota St. and N. Salsipuedes St. in Santa Barbara, which resulted in the death of Kenneth Sterling.  Mr. Gonzalez was the driver of a Jeep Patriot that rear-ended a moped driven by Mr. Sterling.

Mr. Gonzalez is charged with the following felony counts: one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, in violation of Penal Code section 191.5(a) and one count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing, in violation of Vehicle Code section 23153(a).  Additionally, it is further alleged that Mr. Gonzalez personally inflicted great bodily injury to a victim over seventy years of age within the meaning of Penal Code section 12022.7(c).

Mr. Gonzalez was arraigned today, November 30, 2021, and entered not guilty pleas to the charges.  Mr. Gonzalez’s case was continued for Preliminary Hearing Setting on December 16, 2021 in Department 10 of the Santa Barbara Superior Court.  Bail has been set at $100,000.


Motorcyclist Identified in Fatal DUI Collision

Update by the Santa Barbara Police Department
November 29, 2021

The Santa Barbara Police Department has identified the motorcyclist that died in the November 27, 2021, fatal traffic collision as 78-year-old Santa Barbara resident, Kenneth Warfield Sterling Sr.

This case is still under investigation.


Motorcyclist Killed in DUI Collision

Update by the Santa Barbara Police Department
November 27, 2021

On November 27, 2021, around 1:55pm, the Santa Barbara Police Combined Communications Center received multiple reports of a serious injury traffic collision near the intersection of East Cota Street and Salsipuedes Street. The collision involved three vehicles and a motorcycle.

Santa Barbara Police, Fire, and AMR Paramedics responded to the scene. Officers discovered an adult male unresponsive laying in the roadway. A motor officer was first on scene, rendered aid, and soon fire, and paramedics arrived.

In the early stages of the investigation, it appears the motorcyclist was driving south in the 600 block of North Salsipuedes Street, near Ortega Park. A Jeep SUV was also driving south behind the motorcyclist and rear-ended the motorcycle, ultimately ejecting him approximately 85 feet before landing in the roadway. The Jeep then collided with a parked Dodge Ram Pick-up truck. The motorcycle was struck with such force it careened riderless half a city block before colliding with a parked Toyota sedan in the 500 block of North Salsipuedes Street.

Tragically, the motorcyclist sustained serious injuries and was pronounced dead at the collision scene. The Critical Accident Reconstruction Team responded and is currently investigating this collision. The roads in this area will be closed to all vehicles and pedestrians for several hours, please avoid the area.

The driver of the Jeep and believed to be at-fault in the collision, Raul A. Gonzalez, a 48-year-old Santa Barbara resident is suspected of being DUI at the time of the collision and was placed under arrest. He was transported to Cottage Emergency Room from the scene of the collision for evaluation and discharged from the hospital without sustaining injuries. Gonzalez is currently being charged with felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and felony DUI causing injury / death. He was booked in the Santa Barbara County Jail with $1,000,000 bail.

This case is still under investigation and no other information is available at this time. The decedents name is being withheld until family can be notified.


By an edhat reader
November 27, 2021

Fatal collision at Cota and Salsipuedes. Looks like a moped and two vehicles.

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Byzantium Dec 01, 2021 10:28 AM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

PitMix -- you elected and keep electing the dysfunctional majority on city council. Rowse will need some help. He can't do this alone. See if you can get your team to get out of their own vision zeros pitch in to confront the growing list of city concerns you now demand new mayor Randy Rowse solve singlehandedly. Doesn't work that way - so demanding one person solve problems created by a seven person city council is also vision zero. Rowse as mayor and in charge of the meeting agendas at best can concentrate more focus on local issues, rather than ineffectual, global virtue-signaling matters well outside the province of the city council. Rowse can start a re-direction, but not when others think it is more important to sabotage him for partisan political gain rather than building a new and pragmatic approach to city government. That was the message votes sent from both sides of the political spectrum who put Randy in the mayors seat. One gets elected to city council to manage the city for the best interests of all residents; not to hand out free money to narrow groups of constituents in order to get re-elected and then walk away after being term-limited out. New day, new vision,. Hop on board - your help is needed too, instead of just sniping from the sidelines.

PitMix Dec 02, 2021 08:17 AM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

Rowse was just the least objectionable candidate to many people. People didn't think he was the 2nd coming or anything.
Murillo got a lot of criticism for how things are, so if she had to bear that responsibility, I don't see how you can start the Rowse era by arguing that he doesn't have any responsibility. Unless you agree that he isn't a good leader from the start?

LooseCannon Nov 29, 2021 05:30 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

If, in the event that a "drunk" driver, gets into a collision with a "sober" (but reckless) driver, who is driving at great speed (but otherwise "sober"), how do the authorities apportion blame in these instances? Sometimes, I suspect, a driver is a little bit over the limit, driving sensibly, and gets into a collision with some speed freak, and is automatically blamed for the incident. I don't know if this is the case here, but I can see scenarios where a "drunk" driver could be innocently tangled up in a homicide charge when a reckless speeder is actually the person at fault. I think it's always best to suspend judgement.

Seabird Dec 01, 2021 08:10 AM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

@LOOSE driving while under the influence of anything is illegal. It doesn't matter whose fault an accident is, the DUI is a stand alone offense. Yours is one of the more bizarre comments I've read in a while. Additionally, "homicide charges" as you state are rare in cases of DUI. The vast majority are vehicular manslaughter, as in the case above. It's always best to study the laws a bit before forming opinions on them.

a-1638373014 Dec 01, 2021 07:36 AM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

LC... you get into a fender bender with ANY measurable amount of alcohol in your system then it's automatically your fault. The only "innocent drunk" is the one passed out and sleeping it off in the corner. On the positive side fines and fees for DUIs haven't changed in over 30 years so the value of the combined fees and consequences is severely reduced should you decide to "innocently" get behind the wheel and drive while impaired.

LooseCannon Nov 29, 2021 05:18 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

These accidents involving drunk drivers are appalling. The initial reports always identify a surviving driver as a DUI. Is it possible that the deceased victims are sometimes driving under the influence, too? How do you assign culpability if there are multiple drivers, all drunk, crashing into each other? I am not insinuating anything about this terrible incident, but I am curious to know....

a-1638155234 Nov 28, 2021 07:07 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

A collision repair professional told us last week that, "people have forgotten how to drive," there are so many accidents in the past few months. At any one time there can be 1 - 3 fender benders clogging the streets and freeways. So sad to see innocents killed by DUI drivers, and doubly sad to see it happening every week lately in Santa Barbara County.

Byzantium Nov 28, 2021 04:29 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

Vision Zero means the current city council majority is not looking for solutions for our chronic city problems. Vagrants, traffic safety, growing crime, gang criminal activity, non-viable public transit and even worse streets and sidewalks, unsustainable city employee pension debt, unbalanced city budgets, and long-standing staffing bloat. The current majority do not see these as problems, which is why they have Vision Zero when it comes to solutions. Keep electing fresh blood until a new city council majority will work towards getting results; rather than offering only blame and petulant remorse. We also need to have their backs once we understand they are working for us; and not for the dysfunctional status quo. We are in this together.

Byzantium Nov 28, 2021 02:24 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

How do you enforce driving without a license, without massive check points? Punishment must fit the crime, and the enforcement must also be practical. Let's keep working on this, because I want all drunk and impaired drivers off the road. Permanently. What is the best way to construct a sieve that catches them: but doesn't not make others pay with undue delays. Where does taking drunk drivers off the road work best, and let's apply those best practices.

SBTownie Nov 28, 2021 01:59 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

Why are DUIs such low level crimes??? You have to get a DUI in CA, what, 3x before they take away your license? This is absolutely disgusting. DUI should be automatic forfeiture of license for something like 10 years and mandatory jail time. Do you know what the punishment for your first DUI is? Probation and some classes. WTF. Every time I read about one of these senseless and far more preventable deaths I feel absolutely sick and enraged.

PitMix Nov 30, 2021 08:23 AM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

Being sick with the flu or a bad cold also impairs your driving like being 0.10, should we make that a mandatory life sentence also?
First time DUI with a 0.10 costs you $10K minimum. I would suggest reserving more severe punishments for repeat DUIs and 1st timers with 0.20 or more.

Transparent Nov 28, 2021 02:29 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

I agree

My caveat that degree matters. For example, if you are over 0.10, then I think you are right that you are essentially risking other people's lives and we should throw the book at you. I would like the minimum lowered to 0.04 for everyone (which I THINK is already the case for commercial drivers) ... and if you're between 0.04 and 0.08 we still make the consequences quite severe.... like, severe enough so that you won't ever make that mistake again...

Patrolling matters too. It used to be the case that cops would hang out around State St around 10, 11 12, 1am... you'd think twice about getting in your car. Now, it seems like it's more likely that you'll hit a telephone pole or a pedestrian than that a patrol car would notice or care.

a-1638304407 Nov 30, 2021 12:33 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

The Farmer's Market at Camino Real has law enforcement on hand. Perhaps the owner of the shopping center requires it? I've never seen a regular bike or skateboard there on Sunday, much less an electric bike. With the crowded sidewalks they would be a recipe for disaster.

FondofSB Nov 28, 2021 07:47 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

à 2403 :
Fully agree !
Just go to the Tuesday Farmer's market on State Street : Signs CLEARLY indicate : NO bicycle, rollers, skateboard etc. EXCLUSIVELY pedestrians and you'll see electric bikes zooming by at 30 MPH yelling at you if you don't jump aside fast enough and NEVER one single cop to STOP those thugs ! One day someone is going to get very badly hurt and then "well meaners" will come out and say : "oh ! let's not be mean to them" !

pstarSR Nov 28, 2021 01:17 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

if you live in a city with laws, you must abide by them.

We all have a responsibility to follow the rules. Odd though, there have been threads on here where people CRY about getting a DUI. CRYYYYYY that they were punished "too harshly". the target for your anger should be the driver, and always the driver. they sat down, turned the keys and drove. I have also lost friends to DUI drivers and I will never ever..... EVER twist the story away from the responsible party.

jak Nov 28, 2021 07:58 AM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

What a terrible loss.

Permit me if you will to make an observation about the presumed cause of the tragedy though. That drunk driver may be Akins in caring person in many ways. They may live those around them and value their lives enormously. But they have devolved to a point in life where they value that high even more than human life. More even than their own life. Alcohol has effectively become god to them whether they will admit it or not, whether they can even see it or not. This is always a tragedy whether it leads to a death or not.

may3591 Nov 28, 2021 06:20 AM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

NOTREALLYDAVE
I’ m sorry for this tragic, senseless loss of life. The comment about about the drunk surviving unscathed is untrue. His survival includes the daily memory of the event and the horrific memory that he caused
this to happen is the worst punishment possible. It won’t bring anyone back but it will inflict constant horrifying recall and pain to the driver on a daily basis. This would be worse than death. RIP

SBTownie Nov 28, 2021 02:14 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

Agree with SBSAND. It is not enough to say their punishment is their life. We need harsher laws, license forfeiture, mandatory jail time, etc. on the first offense to start with. Having the chance to get multiple DUIs before you face any jailtime or losing your license is unacceptable and currently that kicks in on number 3 in CA.

Henry Sarria Nov 28, 2021 04:51 AM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

1st off, Notreallydave, my deepest, sincerest & most heartfelt condolences on the tragic loss of your friend. This deeply saddens me. May peace be w/ you.
To any & all here, I'm gonna say it again, more laws, traffic lights, stop signs & speed limits ain't gonna change what drunk drivers do. It don't matter to them, they're drunk, they're impaired, those control features won't do a thing.
Sadly enough, in the majority of cases, nothing gets done until after the fact when a drunk driver does their damage & destruction. That's just the sad fact to incidents such as this.
I mentioned it before, round up the statistics as to where the most drunk driving incidents happen & beef up patrols in those areas.
Also, once a drunk driver does get caught, full implementation of the laws & the consequences from violating said laws needs to be applied.
We're 4 lives for 3 incidents now, 2 on Cathedral Oaks, 1 on Carillo, now this 1. Too many losses folks, PLEASE, be vigilant & careful. PLEASE, DON'T drink & drive.

SBTownie Nov 28, 2021 02:06 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

Seriously. It seems barely a week passes without a DUI driver killing someone on our streets. I am outraged. This is entirely preventable. DUIs need to be punished far more heavily. And we need our police out patrolling for reckless driving constantly. These accidents are happening at all times of day and not even the classic 2am drunk crash. It's so disturbing.

NotReallyDave Nov 27, 2021 07:47 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

This is another example of how a drunk driver can affect the community. Witness reports are of a driver, silver Jeep, running the stop sign at Ortega and Salsipuedes and going high speed south on Salsipuedes. Drunk Jeep driver rear-ended scooter rider so violently that he lost his helmet and was thrown 80-100 feet into the middle of Cota Street. His scooter was thrown through the intersection and ended up wedged into a tree. After hitting the scooter, drunk Jeep driver swerved into a parked silver pickup and sent it forward about 20 feet. Unfortunately, the Jeep's airbags saved the drunk driver from much injury. The scooter rider never woke up. He was 78 years old. And he was my friend.

SBTownie Nov 28, 2021 02:04 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

Devastating. This is such a senseless, cruel crime. DUIs need to be taken far more seriously and need to come with license forfeiture and mandatory jail stints at the first offense. I am sickened that people can get multiple DUIs and get back on the road. People don't fear the law and why would they? The punishments are lenient. I am so sorry your friend was lost to this preventable tragedy. RIP.

Gregoreo Nov 27, 2021 07:13 PM
Charges Filed Against Suspected DUI Driver in Fatal Motorcycle Collision

SBPD will probably have a press release coming up, curious what they conclude. The pics I was sent of this are far too graphic for edhat. Scanner traffic had this as a 20001 hit and run at first, but seemed all parties were there upon investigation. There was talk of a DUI investigation, I think that is who went to Cottage.
It looks to me by photos, the moto got hit from behind by SUV at high speed moving south. That makes the most sense judging from vehicle locations and skid marks and misc ejecta from the involved. Info for those that want to know but also noticed the media didn’t care enough to cover this.

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