Juan Lopez's daughter, Trinity, with her grandmother at the vigil on Cliff Drive Tuesday evening. | Credit: Andy Davis

Beneath the tree where Juan Lopez died on Cliff Drive, his family, friends, and coworkers gathered on Tuesday evening to remember him. For Christina Godinez, who had lived with Lopez for 21 years and had three children with him, it was the time to speak publicly about the injustice surrounding his death on June 29, the result of a hit-and-run accident.

Lopez had parked his car when he was struck by Brock Hoffman at 11:30 p.m. Hoffman drove off and his identity was not known until a short time before he turned himself in to police five days later on July 4. The 55-year-old was charged with felony hit-and-run resulting in death and misdemeanor concealing evidence.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Godinez said. “Why was he walking in the street?”

Was the driver drinking? she asked. Who was the second person a witness saw in the car? Hoffman’s bail of $50,000 was a “slap on the wrist” and an injustice, she said. Why was there no investigation of where he’d been that night? she asked.

Lopez was 39 years old, born and raised in Santa Barbara. Nearly 100 people, many longtime friends, were there to recall his smile, his sense of humor, his friendship, and his generosity. Supervisor Laura Capps and City Councilmember Mike Jordan were also there, and they offered Godinez their condolences and their help. Juan Lopez’s daughter, Trinity, said she’d come home the day he died because they’d spent every one of her birthdays together, which was on July 4. “But we never got to,” she said, weeping. “I’ll never see him again. I don’t know what I’ll do without him.”

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