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Police Arrest Hit-and-Run Suspect

The Victim, a Tibetan Buddhist Nun, Remains Hospitalized


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The driver involved in an April 17 car-on-pedestrian, hit-and-run accident on upper State Street has been identified and arrested, Santa Barbara police announced. Salvador Gomez, 70, is booked in County Jail and faces a felony hit-and-run charge as well as a number of traffic infractions. His bail is set at $50,000.

Salvador Gomez
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SBPD

Salvador Gomez

According to police, a 41-year-old woman — whom sources identified as Santa Barbara resident Maria August, a Tibetan Buddhist nun — was walking northbound across State Street in the crosswalk at Calle Palo Colorado when a car traveling eastbound on State stopped for her.

But Gomez, driving in the same direction on State Street in a different lane, allegedly failed to yield and hit August in the middle of the road. “The suspect,” said a police spokesperson in a prepared statement, “then drove through the nearby Shell gas station and fled northbound on Calle Palo Colorado without stopping or rendering aid to the injured pedestrian.”

Maria August
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Maria August

August was rushed to Cottage Hospital with serious injuries, including a broken neck, broken leg, and severe lacerations. She remains in the hospital's care, and a Facebook page has been set up to help fundraise for her medical expenses.

Gomez remained at-large until police ran several combinations of a partial license plate numbers obtained by witnesses at the scene. Detectives contacted Gomez this week and interviewed him. He initially denied involvement in the incident, but later confessed, said police. His car — a black GMC truck — was located and physical evidence was found on it to link him to the crime, the spokesperson explained.

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