Lompoc resident Dinara Arevalo, 24, was scheduled to appear in Lompoc Superior Court for arraignment on Thursday, Oct. 18, but instead, her attorney showed up and entered a “not guilty” plea.
Arevalo stands accused of leading law enforcement on a police pursuit after fleeing from a hospital in Lompoc that ended in a crash and injured two other people, one of which later died from injuries suffered in that crash.
Arevalo was unable to appear in court on Thursday due to an “undisclosed medical situation,” according to KCOY 12 reporter Keith Carls who was in court for this story.
Arevalo’s attorney, Catherine Swysen from the law firm Sanger Swysen & Dunkle in Santa Barbara, entered a “not guilty” plea on behalf of her client to the criminal charges facing Arevalo including recently added charges of felony violations of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, and felony evading an officer causing death.
Swysen also denied all special allegations against Arevalo and submitted what is referred to as a PC 1368 — “declaring a doubt” as to the defendant’s mental competence.
Arevalo will now be evaluated by two different specialists — one for the defense attorneys and one for the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office — to determine her mental competency to stand trial.
The case returns to a Lompoc courtroom for review on Nov. 6, 2018.
ESCAPE FROM LOMPOC
Investigators say 24-year-old Arevalo escaped from Lompoc Valley Medical Center on Oct. 1, 2018, and Lompoc police officers attempted to stop her outside the hospital. However, they say Arevalo drove off, which started the pursuit.
KEYT NewsChannel 3 picked up the pursuit as it traveled on Santa Rosa Road near Buellton at about 4:45 p.m. Eventually, the pursuit spilled out onto Highway 1 with speeds at times reaching up to 90 MPH.
At one point, the suspect got onto southbound U.S. Highway 101 and began heading towards the Goleta Valley. At about 5:06 p.m. the dispatch operator reported a crash on U.S. 101 southbound in the Tajiguas area, near Refugio State Beach.
The chase ended when the suspect crashed into a black Toyota Tacoma pickup truck driven by 60-year-old Brett Bronstad with 58-year-old Michael Garcia in the passenger’s seat.
The force of the impact caused the pickup truck to overturn and go down an embankment, landing beside the railroad tracks. Arevalo’s car had also rolled over onto its rooftop trapping her inside, according to officials, but ultimately the California Highway Patrol said she did not suffer any injuries.
Both Garcia and Bronstad suffered facial lacerations that were considered minor injuries, according to a CHP traffic collision report, but it’s believed Garcia’s health worsened over the next several days and passed away on Oct. 11, 2018, from injuries he suffered in the crash.