Did SLO County medical examiner skate on hit-and-run?

May 16, 2016
Gary Walter

Gary Walter


Local officials decided to look the other way after the San Luis Obispo County contracted medical examiner was involved in a hit-and-run on his way to an autopsy. Even so, officers did arrest Dr. Gary Alan Walter for driving with a .19 blood alcohol level.

SLO County pays Walter, who lives in Visalia, $200,000 a year to do autopsies, medical exams, file reports and testify in court, according to his contract. The coroner’s team generally conducts autopsies and medical examinations once a week at a medical examination facility located at 835 Aerovista Place in San Luis Obispo.

At about 7:45 a.m. on March 9, Walter was spotted speeding down Broad Street near Orcutt Road with a blown front tire and steam pouring from the front end of his Cadillac Escalade truck. By the time SLO City police officers arrived, Walter had pulled his truck over near Tank Farm Road, just a half of a mile from the county medical examination facility, the police report says.

Walter told officers he had no idea how his truck had been damaged. Walter claimed he had driven from the Starbucks at the Marigold Center. Officers searched Walter’s reported route for signs of an accident, but found no evidence.

Officers again asked Walter what route he had taken, and Walter changed his statement. He told officers he had driven down Broad Street from Higuera Street, according to the police report.

Officers then discovered debris from Walter’s truck in front of Big Sky Cafe on Broad Street. Officers determined Walter had struck a vehicle that had been parked in front of the restaurant, though it was no longer there, according to the accident report.

Nevertheless, the accident report recommends taking no further action. Walter was not charged with hit-and-run.

Walter told officers he had consumed two single-shot vodkas at a home he owns in Cambria between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. After sleeping for three or four hours, Walter said he headed for work.

Officers transported Walter to French Hospital Medical Center for a blood test that showed an alcohol concentration of .19. The test results contradict Walter’s statement to police because he would not have had a .19 blood concentration 14 hours after consuming two single vodka drinks.

Walter pleaded no contest to misdemeanor DUI and was sentenced to three years probation.

Because of Walter’s questionable statements to officers, the hit-and-run and driving to work while intoxicated, it is likely attorneys locally and in the Central Valley will question the accuracy of his reports and testimony.

Last week, Walter testified that Alvaro Medrano, 54, a man who lost his life in a bar fight, died from injuries suffered in a fall, rather than blows to the head. Sergio Aranda, 36, and Travis Woolf, 37, are currently on trial for voluntary manslaughter stemming from the fight. Walter’s testimony is a key component to the prosecutor’s case.

Nevertheless, Tony Cipolla, the SLO County Sheriff’s Department public relations officer, said the sheriff plans to continue working with Walter through the end of his contract in June 2017. Walter’s contract permits either party to terminate the agreement with or without cause with 90 days written notice.

“The sheriff’s office had serious discussions with Dr. Walter about our concerns regarding the incident,” Cipolla said. “Since he is contracted through June 2017, the sheriff’s office will continue to honor that contract. We recognize that people make mistakes that are out of character but that does not prevent us from having confidence in Dr. Walter and insuring this does not occur again.”


Police Report 160309009 03/09/16 by CalCoastNews

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Thanks for posting the accident report Karen. Interesting report. It is marked as a “misdemeanor hit and run” on the face page but there was no hit and run section or even a mention of hit and run anywhere in the narrative. While the DUI report was actually pretty good, the accident report left a lot to be desired.

At $200,000 a year he can afford 3 or 4 new Cadillac Escalades this year alone, he’s not concerned over a little scratch on one of his, he knew he would lose his “government” job.

that should be “he knew he wouldn’t lose his “government” job”

You would think that the County could buy their own full-time, sober, Medical Examiner for $200K a year.

Not guilty. Any sleezebag attorney will use the formaldhyde defense.

Too many embalmings have caused the formaldhyde fumes to enter his body and that is what caused the .19 reading.

Could really happen. Twinkies caused a murder once.

Or he can claim affluenza – he’s too rich and entitled to be responsible for his actions or their consequences.

And humans cause global warming, so yeah, you’re right anything is possible

Hit and Run And driving under the influence?

Can anyone else point to this as an example as why THEY should not be charged if the same thing happened to them?

This is disgusting. Period. And getting 200K a year of taxpayers’ money!

AND the $200,000 we pay him is for ONE day per week. Outrageous! Any regular citizen would have ended up in jail and facing a huge fine. Good old boys at work, as usual in SLO county and city!

Come on that’s only $4,000 per day, assuming 2 weeks of vacation a year, but we all know when your in the government you get much more than that, so if we go for an 8 hour day that’s only $500.00 an hour, how ever do your expect anyone to survive on less that that?? It’s the government way.

I wonder if this is one of the “quality jobs” Ahole Hill claims he helped “create” (lol, as if government can create anything except headaches and hassles).

And this dolt is what we get to perform public autopsies of various fatal crimes? Talk about criminal activity in government!

Why do we farm out this work to somebody from Visalia, of all places. We have local pathologists who are competent and, well, local.

Sounds like he’s trying to drum up some business for himself. Could have been a human instead of a vehicle. He would have ran either way. The sheriffs department should be investigated for failure to report a crime. Cover up for the good ole boys. Business as usual….

A .19 at 7:45am, on his way to an autopsy??? That’s maintenance drinking to prevent the shakes, more like. Very disturbing, indeed. And very disturbing he was seemingly dealt a favor by law enforcement when they realized he was aligned with the sheriff’s department. Would anyone in LE like this guy to do an autopsy on one of their loved ones?

Thank you CCN for reporting all this swept under the rug by our government.

Achilles heel: I would be sure that the pay (base) is 200k, not including perks, pensions, etc.