Crime

Man charged with DUI in crash that killed 2 people on Hwy. 154

Two people were killed and three injured in a car collision on Highway 154 near Los Olivos on Sunday. A Santa Maria man involved in the collision was arrested and charged with a felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Two people were killed and three injured in a car collision on Highway 154 near Los Olivos on Sunday. A Santa Maria man involved in the collision was arrested and charged with a felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol. Santa Barbara County Fire Department

A Santa Maria man arrested following a double fatal crash on Highway 154 early Sunday near Los Olivos made a brief appearance in Santa Barbara County Superior Court for an arraignment hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Rigoberto Gracida, 30, has been charged with a felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury to four people, plus faces several special allegations for causing great bodily injury.

Additionally, he faces a misdemeanor charge for driving with blood alcohol content above the legal limit of .08 percent.

The criminal complaint alleged his blood alcohol content was .10.

Gracida was arrested after the three-vehicle crash on Highway 154 east of Zaca Station Road.

The crash occurred when an eastbound Nissan SUV, driven by the defendant, drifted into the westbound lane, where it collided with a Honda Accord driven by Hamilton Dias Bonilla, 35, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The impact caused the Nissan to overturn, and it was struck from behind by a Dodge minivan driven by Aurelio Salvador Zaragoza, 43, the CHP said.

Bonilla and a passenger in the Dodge — Antonia Bautista Santiago, 50 — were declared dead at the scene.

Authorities say Zaragoza suffered major injuries, and Antonio Rafael, 32, a passenger in the Honda, had moderate injuries. Another Honda passenger, Ricio Arroyo Cortes, had minor injuries.

All those involved in the crash lived in Santa Maria, the CHP said.

The defendant, originally identified by CHP officers as Rigoberto Gracida Paucene, was treated for minor injuries and then was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, the CHP said.

Gracida also has been charged with a misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended or revoked license along with an infraction for making an illegal turn.

Court records show that Gracida has been known by the name the CHP provided, along with Rigoberto Garcia Pauleno and Pauceno Rigoberto Gracida.

In 2009 and 2011, a man named Rigoberto Gracida, with similar aliases, was charged with misdemeanor counts of driving without a license, according to court online records.

Gracida was ordered to return Thursday to Judge John McGregor’s courtroom to set a date for the preliminary hearing, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 4.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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