Nipomo resident Krista Janine Babbitt may have been taking a morning walk before she was killed sometime early Tuesday morning, a relative said Wednesday.
“She liked to go watch the sunrise,” said Becky Crispen, Babbitt’s sister-in-law. “Sometimes she’d call me in the morning and say, ‘You need to get up and come see the sunrise.’ ”
Babbitt’s body was found on a roadway south of Nipomo near the intersection of Joshua Street and Santa Maria Vista Avenue. Someone called 911 just after 6 a.m., and officials closed the road about 6:30 a.m.
The CHP, which is responsible for roadways in unincorporated areas of the county, is investigating the case as a felony hit-and-run, according to sheriff’s spokesman Rob Bryn.
CHP spokesman J.W. Townsen said officers believe Babbitt was struck by an unidentified vehicle, but it’s still unknown what Babbitt was doing or how the crash happened.
Bryn said an autopsy conducted Wednesday morning found the cause of death as blunt force trauma. Toxicology results could take three weeks to be returned, he said.
Crispen said Babbitt, 55, lived in a small home on a farm in the area near where her body was found.
Babbitt was raised in Lompoc but had lived in the Nipomo area for about 15 years, Crispen said. Her parents had worked at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Babbitt worked at the deli in the Vons supermarket in Nipomo. A manager at Vons declined to comment.
“She loved life, her family, her friends,” Crispen said. “She was a bubbly, kind and giving person.”
Services have not yet been set.
Babbitt is also survived by brothers Melvin and Brent Crispen, sister-in-law Lanea Crispen, and sister Debbie Ferguson.
According to a Facebook page set up by a family friend, called “R.I.P. Krista Babbitt 2/1/2011,” a memorial fund has been set up at Vons in Nipomo.
Sheriff Ian Parkinson, who was briefed at the scene, said witnesses told investigators that Babbitt’s body was struck by several vehicles before authorities reached the scene and closed the road.Townsen said it’s unknown how many vehicles may have hit Babbitt.
Nearby resident Dennis Leatham was drinking coffee about 5:15 a.m. with his brother-in-law’s brother when they noticed traffic backing up on the road and went outside to investigate.
Leatham said he saw two men with flashlights directing traffic near his home in the 700 block of Joshua Street and helped them direct drivers to turn their cars around until CHP officers arrived.He said the road was closed most of the day and reopened later in the afternoon.
Townsen said the CHP’s multiagency accident investigation team, which typically is called out to analyze accidents that kill more than one person, collected evidence and surveyed the scene Tuesday.