Montecito mudslide victim critically injured by alleged DUI driver with suspended license

Nicholas B. Hart of Goleta is accused of driving drunk with a suspended license and critically injuring a 91-year-old man in Santa Barbara. (Santa Barbara Police Dept.)

A 26-year-old man with a suspended license and two prior DUI convictions allegedly crashed into and critically wounded a 91-year-old man in Santa Barbara, police said.

The elderly victim had been recently displaced from his home during the Montecito mudslides, police said.

The suspect was identified as Nicholas B. Hart, 26, of Goleta.

Police say Hart had a blood-alcohol content approximately three times the legal limit and was also under the influence of prescription drugs. He was in possession of an open bottle of alcohol and marijuana at the time of the crash, police said.

The incident happened Tuesday at 7:34 p.m. Investigators say the victim was crossing in a marked crosswalk at State and Micheltorena streets when a car came flying down the road at a high rate of speed and struck him.

The victim was transported to a hospital in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.



Police say Hart was driving a 2003 Honda Civic with a license that had been suspended because of two prior DUI convictions in the last three years.

He is being held on $1 million bail at the Santa Barbara County Jail. He is facing charges of felony DUI drugs with injury; felony DUI alcohol with injury and driving on a suspended license for prior DUIs.

Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow said the case reinforces the need for people to take steps to avoid drunk driving. She reminded those who intend to go out drinking to plan ahead to arrange a ride to avoid dangerous situations.

"This incident exhibits the worst-case scenario," Luhnow said. "Somebody who has been arrested before, didn't learn their lesson, is facing their third charge and critically injured somebody. So it's a tragedy for the victim's family as well as the subject that's facing charges at this point."

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DUIdui crashelderlytraffic accidentmudslideSanta Barbara County
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