Photo: Stock Image
The City of Santa Barbra, in an effort to support the area’s restaurant operators during the Covid Pandemic and to provide dining opportunities for tourists and local citizens, established lenient ordinances allowing for eateries to build and maintain outdoor seating areas in the curbside areas in front of their establishments. These “parklets” evolved from loose arrangements of folding tables and chairs to sturdy structures with level flooring, overhead canopies, lighting, heating, and seating areas allowing for comfortable social distancing for restaurant patrons. Constructed of heavy lumber and engineered for stability, the city’s parklets are substantial structures built at considerable cost.
None of that apparently mattered to 21-year-old Lincoln, Ca. resident Kiana Murillo or 20-year-old Santa Barbara resident Grace Wells at approximately 1:30 a.m. on April 29th . According to Santa Barbara Police Department spokesperson Kasi Corbett, it was at that hour—just 30 minutes prior to closing time at the popular Press Room bar and restaurant—when “a red sedan slammed into the parklet in front of the Press Room and obliterated it. The suspect vehicle hardly hesitated in its path of destruction and “fled the scene westbound” through the city’s commercial neighborhood streets.
Responding officers located the suspect vehicle, conducted a traffic stop, and determined that both occupants—Wells and Murillo—were intoxicated. Both women were transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, where they were each booked on charges of driving under the influence, hit-and-run; Wells was additionally booked on a charge of being a minor under the influence.