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Investigators reveal new information in hit-and-run case

Newschannel 3 is piecing together the sequence of events leading up to the death of a Santa Barbara High School baseball coach last month.

We’ve been investigating why Simon Chavez, 22, was walking on the freeway in the moments before he died.

Sources tell Newschannel 3 Chavez was at a party and had been drinking the night he was killed.

We have also been told he left the party in a taxi.

But what is unclear — why and exactly where he got out of the cab before he ended up walking along the side of Highway 101.

Chavez’ body was discovered on Highway 101 near Carrillo Street in Santa Barbara by CHP officers In the early morning hours of Jan. 15.

Officers say he’d been stuck and killed by a hit-and-run driver.

They eventually arrested Lau Van Huynh, 78.

Investigators used evidence left at the scene, and surveillance video from the Chumash Casino to track him down.

“Despite all odds, we did locate the driver and the vehicle involved in the hit and run accident. We went to great lengths, we’re certainly going to investigate all the evidence locally,” explains Officer James Richards with the Santa Barbara area CHP.

Investigators followed up leads, including reports Chavez had been in a cab that night.

Officers say Chavez got out of the taxi for unknown reasons.

“We have no credible evidence to suggest that Mr. Chavez was dropped off on the side of the freeway. Without getting into the details of the case, we did get that information, and we’re moving forward,” says Richards.

Sources tell Newschannel 3 Chavez had been drinking the night he died.

In court, CHP investigators testified that witnesses reported seeing Chavez staggering on the side of the freeway, moments before he was struck.

“Captain Maples, the Santa Barbara area CHP commander is committed throughout this investigation, with resources and personnel, to ensure its investigated completely,” Richards adds.

The toxicology reports in this case have not yet been released.

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