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Officer testifies that Los Osos woman was texting, drunk when she hit Morro Bay pastor

Posted at 2:37 PM, May 15, 2019

A judge Wednesday ruled there is enough evidence in the case against a Los Osos woman charged with hitting and killing a Morro Bay pastor late last year to try her for the man’s death.

Emily Bales is charged with one count of vehicular manslaughter while under the influence and a special allegation of fleeing the scene for the deadly Nov. 18, 2018 crash. Investigators say she struck Dale Paulsen, who was reportedly walking along the shoulder of Ramona Ave. in Los Osos in the evening hours.

Paulsen, 67, died at the scene due to multiple blunt force injuries, according to a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s coroner who testified Wednesday.

Dr. Joy Carter said Paulsen was struck so hard by the vehicle that his skull was severed from his spinal cord, what’s referred to as an internal decapitation. Carter said it’s highly unlikely Paulsen could have survived that injury.

Emily Bales during her preliminary hearing Wednesday. (KSBY photo)
Emily Bales during her preliminary hearing Wednesday. (KSBY photo)


California Highway Patrol Officer Fridencio Rueea testified that a witness who stopped to render aid to Paulsen immediately after the crash saw a pickup truck leave the scene.

He said the truck described by that witness matched the description of the vehicle Bales was driving that night after she left the Baywood Ale House on Santa Maria Ave.

According to Rueea’s testimony, Bales later returned to the scene where a bystander was giving aid to Paulsen but she fled again when a witness approached her vehicle.

Rueea said Bales returned again to find emergency medical personnel and law enforcement on the scene and she once again left the area.

When Rueea later stopped Bales with the description of the truck he received from dispatch, he asked her what happened and had Bales perform several field sobriety tests.

Rueea said Bales initially told him she believed she’d hit a pole but then said she had planned to turn herself in, according to Rueea.

Rueea said Bales then admitted she had been texting at the time of the crash.

Phone records show Bales sent a text message at 5:28 p.m., Rueea said, which is about when the deadly crash occurred.

Bales performed poorly on the field sobriety tests, so Rueea said he arrested her on suspicion of drunk driving.

A breath test completed about two hours after the crash reportedly revealed Bales had a Blood Alcohol Content of .13, which is about one-and-a-half times the legal driving limit.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Senior Officer John Penaflor testified Wednesday that in speaking with Bales that night, she was remorseful and cooperative.

Dale Paulsen (Photo courtesy Paulsen family)


Paulsen’s congregation held a special funeral service for him shortly after his death, where he was honored for his devotion to Christianity and his dedication to his family and church.

Bales’ superior court arraignment is set for June 3.