Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office Investigates Death near Painted Cave

One Man in Custody for Vehicular Manslaughter After Woman Found Dead in Road

Credit: Courtesy

A man is in custody facing charges of vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing injury following a death on Painted Cave Road last weekend, according to a statement from Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Raquel Zick.

The incident occurred late at night on Saturday, July 23, when authorities received a report of “a person down in the roadway.” Around 10 p.m., Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and found 45-year-old Nicole Lawson unconscious in the road, and 37-year-old Daniel Zuzinec “awake and near a vehicle.” 

Lawson was pronounced dead at the scene, while Zuzinec was questioned and eventually arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. 

Before he could be taken to the jail, Zuzinec “experienced a medical emergency,” Zick said, and was transported to the hospital, where he was booked in absentia. He has since been booked into the Main Jail for being under the influence of a controlled substance (misdemeanor), DUI causing injury (felony), and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (felony), as well as a remand for previous pending charges.

Sheriff’s detectives are actively investigating the incident. The Sheriff’s Office has not released Lawson’s final cause and manner of death, pending a toxicology and autopsy report conducted on Wednesday.

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