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

May 16, 2016
Gary Walter

Gary Walter

By KAREN VELIE

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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NorthCountyGuy

Crime pays when you are a member of the Ol Boy Clique.


RainbowBrite

Every autopsy he has done should be discredited. What if he would not have gotten a DUI or hit and run that morning? He would have been performing autopsies at a .19 BAC. How many other times has he gone to work intoxicated? Ridiculous


kayaknut

As with many alcoholics, many.


kettle

So he lives in Cambria/Visila and works in SLO, so how is he getting to work?


Did someone other than his lawyer request a “hardship Licence”?


Someone I know received a DUI for driveing on private property (.08) and was without his license for 6 months (many classes etc) but did not work for the SO.


There must be more to this story……..


Perspicacious

“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.”


Apparently, Walker is also a liar. He headed for work from Cambria, a 45 minute drive, at 11PM? The article didn’t say when he went to sleep. 2 Shots between 5 and 7 PM was all?


What a $200,000/year liar. Should be a politician.


Lewy

I must have missed this in the local Tribune.


kayaknut

In case you didn’t know the tribune is no longer local, it’s printed in the valley and like most of it’s stories, trucked in.


Perspicacious

The Fibune is still in business?


kettle

Yes, and hiring IT workers:


CEO tells IT staff he’s ‘pleased’ to announce new tech plan


The McClatchy Company, which operates a major chain of newspapers in the U.S., is moving IT work overseas.


The number of affected jobs, based on employee estimates, range from 120 to 150.


The chain owns about 30 newspapers, including The Sacramento Bee, where McClatchy is based; The Fresno Bee, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., The State in Columbia, S.C. and the Miami Herald.


In March, McClatchy IT employees were told that the company had signed a contract with Wipro, an India-based IT services provider.


Perspicacious

SLO PD treated this like ONE incident, the collision and the arrest. Even I can see that this wasn’t the case. if it weren’t for the mistake of checking the “hit and run” box on the face page you wouldn’t even know there HAD been a hit and run.


CentralcoastRN

Awesome.


If I were a criminal and this chump was in any way involved in any of the autopsies, you can bet I would be tearing this guy AND the medical examiner’s office to shreds. Well, not me, my attorney.


I am trying to understand. Why not just sober up BEFORE driving in for an autopsy? The dead person isn’t going anywhere.


kayaknut

Question: ‘Why not just sober up BEFORE driving in for an autopsy”, Answer: If you were an alcoholic and knew you could drink, drive and no matter what not loose your job and continue to make your $500 an hour, would you?


Perspicacious

“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.”


This statement demonstrates how stoopid public officials think we are. .19 at 7:45 AM is NOT just “making a mistake”. Walter has done this repeatedly and this IS THE ONLY TIME HE GOT CAUGHT! No, I don’t have any concrete proof of this but I am also not an idiot. Why do they have to “honor the contract”? There is NOTHING in this contract about acceptable behavior? Is that what they are afraid of, firing him and getting sued? If that is the case than whoever wrote the contract for Walter is an idiot. More mistakes by the incompetent Rita Neal perhaps?


Karen, perhaps your next piece could be an investigation into contracts written for outside help such as this one. For this position, if there was NOT an “ethical behavior” clause than that is pathetic! If there is, why isn’t the contract being terminated?


Perspicacious

Forgot to say that .19 BAC at 7:45AM is NOT “out of character”. It IS your character.


CentralcoastRN

THESE are the kinds of employees HR give raises to. THESE are the kind of employees that the Public are disgusted with. THESE are the kind of employees that give the well educated, underpaid, caring employees a bad name. There are PLENTY of DA’s, social workers, nurses, MH staff, etc etc on call that have to get up at all hours and respond to requests for search warrants, collect a rape kit, accompany police at 3am to a gritty hotel to rescue a child from a drug raid. THEY show up sober.


The more I think about this, the more disgusted I become.


mej

“The sheriff’s office had serious discussions with Dr. Walter about our concerns regarding the incident,”


Is that standard procedure for drunks who have been involved in a hit and run?


Unacceptable


kayaknut

It is if they are connected, a LEO or other government employee.