Investigators have identified 20-year-old Romeio Castillo of Santa Maria as the man that lead police on a New Year’s Eve car chase that ended violently with the suspect hit and killed while running across Highway 101.
Castillo was initially spotted failing to stop at a red light while driving on Betteravia Road at approximately 10:20 p.m. Police attempted to pull Castillo over, but he failed to yield and continued on before making his way onto northbound Highway 101.
“At that point, our unit was in pursuit,” said Santa Maria Police Lieutenant James Ginter. “The speed initially on the 101 was 65 miles an hour, after a mile or so, the speeds increased to 80.”
The pursuit continued on the 101 for only a couple of miles until the area just south of the Donovan Road off-ramp when police decided to back off.
“Our unit broke off from the pursuit,” said Lt. Ginter. ” We advised dispatch that the speeds were too great, to notify CHP that there was a vehicle at a high rate of speed northbound and gave the vehicle description.”
After allowing Castillo to drive away, officers were in route to the suspect’s residence when reports from dispatch said a traffic collision had occurred near the Broadway off-ramp.
While attempting to exit the off-ramp, Castillo failed to navigate the sharp curve, and instead, crashed down an embankment into a chain-link fence.
Castillo survived the crash and attempted to flee the scene by running across the 101. He made his way across the northbound lanes, over the concrete median, but was struck by several vehicles while in the southbound lanes. He suffered fatal injuries as a result of the impact and died on scene.
“The location where he resides would have been west of the freeway,” said Lt. Ginter. ” I’m assuming he was just trying to flee from the collision scene, not wanting to be apprehended and anytime you run into a roadway where there’s vehicles, it’s an unsafe thing to do, but we’re taking about the 101 where speeds are much greater and the risks greater as well.”
As a result of the crash, southbound 101 was closed for approximately 2 1/2 hours, with traffic diverted onto nearby Highway 166 to Bull Canyon Road and back onto 101.Slideshow: Deadly Santa Maria Crash Victim Identified