A single candle burned along Las Positas Road Tuesday night, placed in remembrance of two pedestrians — a man and woman who had been dating for just a few months — who were struck and killed by a passing vehicle that didn’t stop after the collision.
Authorities allege that vehicle was driven by a man who, because of his criminal past, was wearing a Global Positioning System monitoring device that led authorities to his location. That man, 46-year-old Jon Peters, will now likely be facing charges of felony hit-and-run, vehicular manslaughter, and violation of parole.
Alan Garcia, 38, and Elizabeth Contreras, 36, were both pronounced dead at the scene after being struck by what witnesses described as a silver or gray Chevrolet van around 7:40 p.m. Saturday; according to police, a witness was able to write down the license plate number. An investigation led authorities to the van’s owner, Peters, who, because of his status as a registered sex offender, is required to wear the GPS device. Working with parole officers, authorities tracked Peters and took him into custody. They later found a van — matching the description of the van in the collision and showing damage consistent with the collision — at a location he had given to sheriff’s deputies as a secondary address.
Peters is registered as a sex offender for oral copulation with a person under 16 years old, a charge that was filed against him in 1989, when Peters would’ve been in his mid twenties, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
More recently, however, Peters has had various run-ins with the law. He was charged with forging a prescription in 2001 and a year later pled guilty and was placed on probation. That same year he was arrested for the sale of a controlled substance and violated his probation, pleading guilty to that charge as well. He then violated probation on the new charge twice, and the original probation three times, leading to him being sentenced in September 2004 to three years in state prison, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Lee Carter, who was the prosecutor in that case. In 1998, Peters also pleaded guilty to forgery of a check, for which he received probation and, in 1999, was charged with furnishing marijuana.
On the state’s registry for sexual offenders, Peters is listed as a transient, and no address or phone number was given for him.
Depending on credits, Peters would’ve been a free man in late 2006 or in 2007 following his prison term, which means he was on parole when Saturday’s collision occurred. On the state’s registry for sexual offenders, Peters is listed as a transient, and no address or phone number was given for him.
According to some who knew the couple, Garcia and Contreras — who each had children, though not together — had been dating for a few months. Garcia graduated in 1989 from San Marcos High School, where he was a wrestler and a football star. He was a Youth Football League coach while working at True Precision Machining, a Goleta company that makes parts for high-tech industries. Not much is known about Contreras.
The victims, who were reportedly wearing dark clothes, were struck while attempting to cross Las Positas at Tallant Road, an intersection with no pedestrian crossing or traffic light. According to police, Garcia was reportedly asked to leave Earl Warren Showgrounds, where a mixed martial arts event was taking place, for blocking the athletes’ path.
That portion of Las Positas by Earl Warren Showgrounds is a sharp drop-off and poses significant visibility issues for motorists heading in either direction. Police responded to 26 vehicle-on-vehicle collisions on Las Positas between State Street and the Highway 101 onramp last year, six of which involved injuries, none of which were fatal.
While police have indicated they don’t believe Peters to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, authorities said they’re waiting on a toxicology report from the coroner’s office to determine whether the victims were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Arnie Tolks, who is handling the case, didn’t return a call late Tuesday to confirm if charges had been filed, but the suspect is expected to appear in court Thursday morning.