A wild recounting of a hit-and-run collision by a man trying to evade attackers took center stage during a preliminary hearing in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Wednesday.
Olivia Ripple, 24, of San Luis Obispo, has pleaded not guilty to assault with a deadly weapon for her alleged role as the driver of the van that hit Douglas Mark on June 25.
In often rambling and dramatic testimony — with interruptions by the judge explaining the need to respond to questions directly — Mark described “doing a double pike” after being struck by the van and flying over the front roof of the vehicle.
“I was launched and just flew over the van,” said Mark, 54, of San Luis Obispo. “I thought to myself, ‘This is what it’s like to fly through the air.’ ”
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Mark said he’d never seen Ripple before and wasn’t sure why he was being targeted as he rode his bike near Target along Los Osos Valley Road in San Luis Obispo.
Mark testified that he broke his clavicle and suffered blurred vision as well as “countless” aches and pains throughout his body.
Wearing a red-and-blue striped shirt, with his long, black hair tied back, Mark testified in court that he had a brief conversation with a woman he knew, Serenity Jones, moments before the incident.
Mark said Jones told him he was “a bad guy” at the AM/PM convenience store down the street about 8:30 or 9 p.m. before the alleged assault.
But Mark testified he told Jones he’d treated her well in the past, and then said, “You owe me money.”
An unidentified wrench-wielding man then came at him and swung but missed before Mark pedaled away on his bike, according to his testimony.
The man threw the wrench at him as he fled, and then it hit the ground and popped up, striking his wrist, Mark said.
Mark testified that he rode hard toward Target, where Ripple’s van appeared, and as he tried to get away, it struck him.
Later, Pismo Beach police pulled the van over along Highway 101. The driver — identified as Ripple — was the only occupant of the vehicle, police said.
Ripple’s attorney, Earl Conaway, argued that Mark did not have a clear recollection of who drove the van and therefore the case should be dismissed.
Conaway also asked Mark if he was using drugs or alcohol at the time. Mark smiled and shook his head in the negative.
He responded aloud “no” when told to state his answer so the court reporter could note his response.
Mark identified Ripple as the driver when asked to do so by San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Charlie Blair.
Judge Hugh Mullin ruled that sufficient evidence existed to continue the case over to trial.
A new arraignment is scheduled for July 25 at 8:30 a.m. Ripple remains in custody in San Luis Obispo County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.