Simon Chavez was a beloved Santa Barbara “local boy”, a graduate of Santa Barbara High School who had volunteered as an assistant baseball coach at the school in recent years. When he was killed in a vehicle versus pedestrian hit-and-run collision in the early morning hours just past midnight on January 15th, the vehicle involved immediately fled the scene.
The investigation by the California Highway Patrol that immediately ensued quickly determined from witness statements that Chavez had been walking along the southbound lanes of U.S. Highway 101 in the downtown Santa Barbara vicinity. According to CHP spokesman James Richards’ report to the media at the time, his office had received citizen tips describing the incident vehicle as “a white Hyundai”. CHP investigators surmised at the time that—in consideration of physical evidence found at the scene–the vehicle had sustained significant front end damage in striking and killing Chavez.
On January 15th, the CHP issued a Be On the Lookout notice for the Hyundai, which led to information indicating the suspect vehicle was registered to a Murrieta address. Nine days later, on January 24th, detectives served a search warrant on the residence of Lau Van Huynh. Van Huynh, 78, was arrested on the scene and summarily transported to Santa Barbara County Jail where he was booked on multiple hit-and-run violations with his bail set at $1 million.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking
Murrieta Patch: Murrieta Man Arrested in Connection with Fatal Hit-and-run
Santa Barbara Independent: Arrest Made in Fatal Highway Hit-and-run
KeyT: Man Arrested After Deadly Hit-and-run