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Joanne Steele

SANTA CRUZ -- An Oakland woman was under arrest Monday after she struck a 70-year-old Las Lomas man with a pickup truck, then fled the scene Sunday afternoon, police said.

The man was in critical condition Monday with injuries to his abdomen, lungs, intestines and kidney, friends said.

Police said they found 29-year-old Joanne Marie Steele at a motel a few blocks away with a white pickup that appeared to be have been in the collision.

"She clearly had been drinking when we contacted her," said Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark.

But because she was arrested about 1 hour and 20 minutes after the crash, Clark said authorities took a sample of her blood and awaited toxicology results to determine if she was driving while intoxicated.

About 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Steele was driving on Pacific Avenue from Laurel Street toward Beach Street in a white Nissan Frontier when she struck the man, who was crossing the avenue but not in a crosswalk, police said.

After the crash, police spoke to witnesses and obtained surveillance videos from nearby shops that showed Steele in a white pickup leaving a drugstore and liquor store near Pacific and Laurel Street. Police found the pickup in the parking lot of a motel in the 300 block of Pacific Avenue.

They found Steele in a motel room and arrested her on suspicion of felony hit and run, Clark said.

The owner of the pickup, Steele's fiance, said he was asleep in the motel room during the crash. Clark said that appeared to be accurate based on the surveillance videos.


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The pickup, which had damage on its right side consistent with the crash, was impounded.

Police noted that Steele also was arrested in 2010 on suspicion of reckless driving.

Steele listed her occupation as "caregiver." She remained in Santa Cruz County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail, according to jail records.

Santa Cruz police ask anyone with information to call investigations at 831-420-5820, the anonymous tip line at 831-420-5995 or leave a tip at www.santacruzpolice.com or by the mobile application at http://m.santacruzpolice.com.