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Driver drank four beers before hitting cyclist, according to CHP

Aaron Richard Ceja, 20, of Nipomo was arrested Saturday, June 25, 2011, on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol and causing injury. Original story »
Aaron Richard Ceja, 20, of Nipomo was arrested Saturday, June 25, 2011, on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol and causing injury. Original story »

A 20-year-old Nipomo man accused of crashing into and killing an English bicyclist near Oceano last month had a preliminary blood-alcohol level of more than twice the legal driving limit, according to a CHP report.

Aaron Richard Ceja told the CHP that he was returning from a visit with his father, whom he hadn’t seen in 16 years, when the crash occurred, according to the CHP report. Killed was 26-year-old David Williams.

The CHP breath test showed Ceja’s blood-alcohol level at 0.171 and 0.177 percent, the report states. The CHP uses the breath tester twice and reports both readings. The legal driving limit in California for blood alcohol is 0.08 percent.

Ceja has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence. The results of a blood examination are pending.

At one of his recent court appearances, Ceja and Williams’ father, Bill Williams, spoke to each other privately to get a better understanding of each other, according to Ceja’s lawyer, James Royer.

Ceja learned about David Williams, a fourth-year medical student who was riding his bicycle to raise money for people living in poverty. Royer said Ceja left the meeting in tears.

“My client has no prior criminal record,” Royer said. “He’s a good kid. This was a horrible thing, and he feels awful about it.”

According to the report, Ceja told the CHP he consumed four 24-ounce Bud Light beers just before and after visiting with his father at a residence in Arroyo Grande early in the evening of June 25.

After drinking two of the beers, Ceja went inside the house to talk to his dad until 6:30 p.m. and then went back to the car and drank the remaining two, sitting in the car until 7:30 p.m. before driving home, police said he told them.

The exact period of when he starting drinking and stopped isn’t stated in the report.

Williams was hit about 8 p.m., according to police.

Ceja said “a bum” agreed to purchase five of the Bud Lights at a gas station in Nipomo, according to the report.

CHP officials wrote that Ceja told them that on his way home to Nipomo he picked up a hitchhiker at Cienaga and South Halcyon streets near Oceano and continued east onto Halcyon Road.

While driving with the hitchhiker, Ceja told police he looked down to adjust the radio and then felt the car drift off the road. When he steered the car left to get back on the road, the Chevy S-10 Blazer flipped and collided with Williams, who was riding his bike west on Halcyon Road.

Williams was thrown from the bicycle and died from his injuries.

The hitchhiker, whose named is redacted in the report, said he had just met Ceja, who “lost control of the vehicle for no reason” before it rolled and hit the cyclist.

Royer said that his client, a former Nipomo High School football player, is used to holding back emotions, but that he broke down after speaking with Williams’ father.

Bill Williams wrote a letter to The Tribune earlier this month saying that “the world has been deprived of a young Englishman who has already given so much, but had so much more to give.”

“We will now never know how much drinking and driving has deprived us of,” Bill Williams wrote. “When will we ever learn?”

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