Garret D. Alford
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY — What could be more fun on a balmy mid-summer evening than a carefree motorcycle ride at sunset? That may well have been the mood 22-year-old Mario Coria Gonzalez, a resident of Santa Maria, was in at 8:20 p.m. on July 17th as he cruised westbound down one of the city’s principal thoroughfares headed toward a major suburban intersection.
But what Gonzalez surely had never suspected was that his evening ride would come to an abrupt and deadly end, snuffing out his life.
But that is apparently what in fact transpired when a Nissan Pathfinder, driven by 31-year-old Orcutt resident Garret D. Alford, unexpectedly turned in front of Gonzalez’s path.
It was at that point, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Tim Santoro, that “the motorcycle slammed into the front passenger door of the Nissan, ejecting the rider.”
Emergency responders on the scene discovered Gonzalez lying lifeless on the roadway, whereupon he was pronounced dead at the scene.
For his part, Alford appeared uninjured, but exhibited signs of intoxication. The immediately ensuing investigation shut down local area traffic for much of the evening as CHP investigators worked to determine the rate of speed at which Gonzalez had been traveling.
During the course of that inquiry, CHP deputies took Alford into custody and arrested him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated causing injury or death.
Alford was then transported by Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department deputies to Santa Barbara County Jail for booking on those charges, with his bail currently set at $100,000.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking