Repeat drunk driver runs down man on sidewalk after leaving tavern, police say

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- A 28-year-old Imperial Beach man with four prior DUI arrests allegedly drove his car up onto a sidewalk in Chula Vista and fatally struck a pedestrian after leaving a nearby tavern, authorities said Monday.

Witnesses told investigators that the allegedly intoxicated driver, identified by police as Nicholas Ramirez, was involved in two earlier non-injury crashes in a parking lot after leaving a nearby bar. He fled, returned a short time later, but again tore out of the parking area when confronted about the damage, according to a statement from the Chula Vista Police Department.

As he was leaving the parking lot a second time, he apparently lost control of his car, which hopped the curb, went up onto the sidewalk and struck a man sitting on a bus stop bench near the intersection of Orange and Third avenues.

The force of the crash severed the pedestrian's leg and he later died from his injuries in a hospital, police said.

“We just saw him zoom by and we heard all the noise and commotion. By the time we got there we looked to the side and the bench was gone, and you just saw Crow laying there,” said Luis Pulido, who lives nearby.

Several people who live nearby said the man who died was homeless and frequented the area.

Pulido described the victim as a friendly homeless man and despite knowing his name, everyone in the area called him "Crow."

“That was his bench where he sleeps every night,” said Pulido. “Everybody knew him. We always saw him walking around with his little cane and his Mickey Mouse sweater.”

“It’s going to be a little sad not seeing him around,” said Pulido.

The driver tried to run away, but police caught up to him. Ramirez was arrested and was subsequently booked into jail on suspicion of murder, manslaughter and DUI.

Chula Vista police said Ramirez had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence four other times between 2009 and 2010.

CVPD officer said when someone’s convicted of a crime such as a DUI they’re given sanctions and if they comply and wait the appropriate time, the Department of Motor Vehicles can issue them their license again.