A chase for a loose dog is believed to have started a chain of events that ended with two Santa Barbara County women struck and killed Dec. 21 on Highway 154 west of Lake Cachuma, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
Both women were pronounced dead at the scene, and the dog was also killed.
About 11:45 p.m., Sara Ornelas, 54, of Santa Barbara, and Barbara Romero, 49, were on the way to the Chumash Casino Resort from Santa Barbara when they pulled over at the main driveway shared by Rancho San Marcos Golf Course and Live Oak Campground, said Lt. Butch Arnoldi.
As one of the women opened the door, their small dog darted out the vehicle and into westbound traffic, where it was struck by a passing vehicle, Arnoldi said. One of the women went to retrieve the dog and was struck by another vehicle.
After seeing this, the second women went into the westbound lane to save the other woman and was also struck, knocked into the eastbound lane and hit at least two more times, Arnoldi said.
The Sheriff’s Coroner’s Bureau has identified Romero as a Lompoc resident, although the California Highway Patrol said she lived in Santa Ynez, based on the address on her driver’s license.
Martin Macarena, 48, of San Luis Obispo, the driver of a westbound 1998 Ford van, allegedly struck one of the women and fled. He was found later at the Chumash Casino Resort and arrested on suspicion of felony hit and run while causing injuries, the CHP said.
Drivers of two other vehicles — Karen Gong, 45, of Oak View and Ma Guadalupe, 41, of Oxnard — stopped and were interviewed at the scene. Gong, the driver of an eastbound Toyota Yaris, allegedly struck one of the women.
Witnesses indicated that a number of other westbound vehicles may have struck one of the women as well, the CHP said.
The CHP is asking anyone with potentially helpful information to call the Buellton CHP Office during regular business hours Mondays through Fridays at 688-5551.