By Sam Stanton
The California Highway Patrol announced the arrest this morning of a suspect in Monday night's hit and run accident in Carmichael that left a young couple severely injured and killed four dogs they were walking.
Paul William Walden, 31, of North Highlands, was arrested at 1:22 a.m. today after the CHP pulled him over at Bainbridge and Salazar drives on suspicion of drunken driving. Walden was driving a 1987 Nissan Maxima and officers noticed damage to the vehicle.
He subsequently told investigators he was driving the car that hit the couple, the CHP said, but Officer Todd VanLindt said Walden claimed he did not know at the time that he had hit anyone. He explained that he had seen a man and a dog but did not believe he had struck them, VanLindt said.
Walden, who has a long history of arrests, was booked on two counts of felony hit and run, four counts of felony animal cruelty, misdemeanor driving under the influence and driving on a suspended driver's license. He is in the Sacramento County Jail in lieu of $135,000 bail.
Online court records show Walden pleaded no contest in April 2011 to charges of battery and possessing a controlled substance, and that he has previous arrests on charges of theft, possession of stolen property, burglary and other violations.
Before today, he had been arrested on charges of driving under the influence at least three times, Sacramento Superior Court records indicate.
Gemily West, 23, and her boyfriend, Harison Long-Randall, 21, were cut down in a crosswalk at Garfield Avenue and Engle Road at about 10 p.m. Monday. West suffered a broken leg and is listed in good condition this morning at San Juan Mercy Hosital. Long-Randall, who is credited with trying to push West out of the path of the car, lost part of a leg in the crash and is listed in critical but stable condition this morning.
Authorities say the car that hit them was traveling down the two-lane residential street at about 80 mph and never stopped or slowed down, and the CHP determined that the suspect vehicle was an older Nissan Maxima based on debris left at the scene.
Walden's Facebook page indicates that he graduated from El Camino High School in 1999, eight years before his alleged victim, West, graduated from the same school.
The incident has prompted an outpouring of donations for the two victims, and readers wishing to contribute to help the pair can make out checks to the Harison Long-Randall/Gemily West Fund and mail them to Pam Dinsmore, community affairs director, The Sacramento Bee, 2100 Q St., Sacramento, Ca 95816.