Juan Perez Aguilar
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY — Just after dawn on July 14th, 88-year-old Miguel Gutierrez-Vargas was walking across a residential street in the City of Goleta when he was suddenly slammed into by what witnesses described as “a maroon pickup truck.”
Responding emergency personnel, as reported to the media by Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason, found Gutierrez-Vargas “lying in the middle of the roadway with major injuries.”
Once the elderly victim was stabilized, he was promptly transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital where he was listed in critical condition.
While the Cottage Hospital medical staff fought to stabilize Gutierrez-Vargas, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department detectives, working in concert with the area California Highway Patrol, launched an investigation into the whereabouts of the suspect vehicle.
Less than 12 hours later, Gutierrez-Vargas died as a result of his injuries and the case took on even greater investigative import.
Pursuant to the search for the suspect vehicle, Juan Aguilar Perez, 66, was identified as the driver of “a blue 2004 Chevrolet Silverado,” which was then confirmed as having been involved in a violent accident involving a pedestrian.
Earlier witness statements regarding the color and model of the suspect vehicle proved to be false, and Perez was contacted 24 hours after the accident occurred, whereupon he was arrested and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail and booked on charges of involuntary manslaughter and hit-and-run causing injury or death. His bail was set at $50,000.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking