Alleged repeat DUI driver struck, killed man taking out trash in Petaluma

A Cotati man who is already facing DUI charges in a separate case is now suspected of driving drunk and hitting and killing a pedestrian on Tuesday night in Petaluma, police said.

According to authorities 41-year-old James Watkins was driving a 2011 white Toyota Prius when it went off the road, over the pavement and hit a 53-year-old man. The victim was taking out the trash near his home adjacent to a roundabout at South McDowell Boulevard and Baywood Drive.

Police said two off-duty law enforcement officers and one off-duty nurse were giving the man medical care when other officers arrived.

The victim was taken to Petaluma Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Watkins, whose car landed in the middle of the roundabout, was uninjured. Police suspected he was driving under the influence of narcotics and he was taken to a local hospital where he was tested. 

He appeared dazed while sitting in his Prius said Petaluma police Lt. Tim Lyons.

"At first he was pretty incoherent, did not know where he was at, and did not tell us what he was under the influence of," Lyons said.

Watkins was arrested and booked into the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility on suspicion of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter.

Authorities said he is currently facing DUI charges in a separate crash two years ago. An attorney representing him in the earlier case declined to comment to KTVU.

The identity of the 53-year-old victim is being withheld, pending notification to his family.