The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputy who first responded to the fatal crash in Saugus at 3:37 a.m. the morning after Halloween found an open container of alcohol in the driver’s lap and another in the center console, according to a record of the investigation obtained by The Signal.
Patrol deputies responding to the Nov. 1 fatal crash that killed Orlando Gomez Sales, 39, of Santa Clarita, were unable to administer a field sobriety test to the driver, Raul Rosales Ramirez, 20, of Santa Clarita, when they responded to the crash near the intersection of Bouquet Canyon Road and Sutters Pointe Drive, next to the strip mall.
The collision damage to Ramirez’s car left him trapped in the driver’s seat, according to an investigator’s sworn statement of the incident.
Fire officials, who arrived at the crash site around 3:46 a.m., worked for about 20 minutes to extricate Ramirez and Sales.
Medical personnel pronounced Sales dead at the scene of the crash. Ramirez was taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital at 4:09 a.m., according to Geovanni Sanchez of the L.A. County Fire Department.
Detectives were unable to obtain Ramirez’s consent for a sobriety test, “due to medical condition,” according to the request for his blood to be drawn, which an L.A. County Superior Court judge had signed by 5:11 a.m.
The initial arrest charge for Ramirez indicated he was under 21 with a blood-alcohol content level of at least .05. Any amount is considered illegal under state law for individuals under 21 years old.
An SCV Sheriff’s Station official also said Ramirez was driving without a license and while on probation for a previous DUI conviction at the time of the crash.
Sgt. Mark Perkins of the station’s Traffic Unit said the murder charge was presented to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office as the result of the allegations. Perkins also said Tuesday that the vehicle’s speed is being investigated as a cause.
The complaint filed Monday accuses Ramirez of the murder of Gomez Sales. Ramirez pleaded not guilty Tuesday at his preliminary arraignment and was ordered back Nov. 16 in San Fernando for the scheduling of his preliminary hearing.
At a preliminary hearing, evidence is presented to a judge who decides if there’s enough to merit a trial.
When a person is convicted of a first DUI offense, they receive a “Watson admonishment” from the DA’s office, a statement read in court postconviction by a prosecutor, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman Josh Greengard.
The statement acknowledges the defendant is aware of how dangerous driving under the influence is, and that, because of this understanding, if the person chooses to drink and drive again and someone is killed in a future crash, the person is now eligible for a murder charge.
A GoFundMe official reached out to The Signal on Wednesday to confirm an account on the website established to support the victim’s family had been deemed to be legitimate by the company’s “Trust & Safety team.”
The website to support the family is here: gofundme.com/f/orlando-gomez.