Alleged drunk driver slams into parked cars, kills homeless woman in Santa Rosa
SANTA ROSA, Calif. - An alleged drunk driver who plowed into parked cars Monday morning killed a homeless woman who was asleep in her vehicle, police said.
The woman's name has not been disclosed, but Santa Rosa police say she was in her 50's and was killed instantly along with her dog.
Angel Ivan Martinez, 21, was arrested for vehicular manslaughter with DUI. The Dodge Challenger Martinez was driving hit a Mazda SUV and sent it airborne, hitting a power pole, tree and another parked car. Martinez, of Santa Rosa, was checked at the hospital and then booked into jail.
Police noticed he smelled of alcohol and showed signs of intoxication.
"It looks like it was hit and moved about 90 to 100 feet from its initial resting spot," said Sgt. Chris Mahurin. "It was a street full of lined-up cars but the parked car that gets hit the hardest, and hit first, unfortunately had this victim inside of it."
Residents rushed out and found the Dodge askew in the road, and Martinez still behind the wheel.
"He was on the phone and telling somebody he had really messed up, well he worded it differently, but he was saying he really screwed up," said witness Brian Frost.
Dave Winnie's home security camera captured the sound of the collision, revealing a car accelerating, then screeching tires, and three loud bangs.
"This is obviously a residential neighborhood, we've got families," said Winnie, who was awakened by the violent crash outside his house on Hoen Avenue. "It's a really bad curve especially when people speed and there have been lots of accidents over the years."
Martinez was conscious after the accident, according to neighbors.
"The paramedic wheeled him out on the stretcher to the ambulance and he was talking," said witness Dan Steiner. "But the guy asked him the same question three times and he wasn't getting a clear answer."
Steiner has lived on Hoen Avenue more than 30 years, and says it has become more dangerous over time.
Truck and commute traffic use it to access Rincon Valley, Bennett Valley, and Highway 12.
The long straightaway attracts speed and recklessness, day and night.
"This has turned into a drag strip, there's side shows in the area and there's no police presence, and I mean none," said Steiner.
The speed limit in the area is 35 mph, but police say Martinez was doing between 80 and 90 mph, and there are no skid marks to indicate he ever braked.
The impact from the airborne SUV snapped the utility pole, knocking out electrictity to residents for most of the day.
By evening, cable crews were working to repair phone and internet service.
The front yard where the SUV had landed was littered with car parts and debris from inside the vehicle.
Police are familiar with the homeless woman from previous encounters.
It's not clear if she randomly chose Hoen Avenue to park or has friends nearby.
"It's horrible, not surprising, but horrible and sad," said witness Ron Clark, who also believes speeding on Hoen Avenue is out of control. "She's homeless with her pet, sleeping in her van, completely innocent, and she got taken out, it's terrible."
It's estimated about one third of Sonoma County's homeless people are living in their vehicles.