Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT – A man who was driving drunk and struck a pedestrian, who later died, on Samoa Boulevard in front of Richards’ Goat in Arcata last year has been sentenced to seven years in prison.
Donald Watts pleaded guilty on Dec. 17 to a single count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and also admitted to fleeing the scene of the crime. On Jan. 15, Judge Marilyn Miles sentenced Watts to seven years in prison.
The crimes occurred in the evening of June 8, 2015 in Arcata, when Watts struck 23-year-old Daniel Pudlicki with his truck as Pudlicki was crossing Samoa Boulevard at I Street in the crosswalk.
After colliding with the victim, Watts proceeded along Samoa Boulevard for two blocks, then made a right-hand turn onto K Street. He circled back around the block and stopped at the intersection of J Street and Samoa Boulevard, where he had an unobstructed view of the crime scene.
Watts then turned onto Samoa Boulevard and drove off. Citizens at the scene provided a description of the truck and one citizen took video of the truck driving away.
Arcata Police Officers were able to relay the description including partial vehicle plate information from viewing the video.
After that information was rapidly shared, a California Highway Patrol officer located Watts within 15 minutes of the collision as he drove across the Samoa Bridge into Eureka.
Watts displayed symptoms of intoxication and admitted to having consumed alcohol prior to driving.
A preliminary alcohol screening test revealed his blood alcohol content to be 0.14 percent.
Watts was transported to St. Joseph Hospital for a blood draw that was obtained at midnight.
Watts’ blood alcohol content was 0.09 percent over four hours after he hit Pudlicki. A person is deemed under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent.
On July 2, 2015, Pudlicki died as a result of the traumatic brain injury he suffered from the collision.
Friends and family of Pudlicki addressed the court Friday prior to the judge sentencing the 55-year-old defendant to prison.