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Santa Barbara driver admits killing marathon runner

February 26, 2010 |  8:13 pm

A Santa Barbara man has pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and other charges after killing a 66-year-old marathon runner in August 2008, authorities said.

Gregory Doan, 58, was drunk and high on heroin when his van swerved onto a shoulder, scattering a group of 20 runners who were training as part of a Lymphoma and Leukemia Society team.

Caroline Samuels, who was looking forward to a marathon in San Francisco the next month, was trying to escape up an embankment when she was struck, police said.

Samuels was a longtime resident of the Bay Area before moving to Santa Barbara about two years before the accident. She had become a docent at the Santa Barbara courthouse and had signed on to teach reading skills as an Americorps volunteer.

Doan’s plea was entered Thursday. He could be sentenced to 35 years in prison. He had four drunk-driving convictions in the 1990s, police said.

--Steve Chawkins in Ventura County