Repeat DUI Offender Faces Vehicular Manslaughter Charges


A Cotati man is suspected of driving intoxicated and fatally striking a 53-year-old pedestrian this past Tuesday in Petaluma, CA.

According to authorities, the driver (identified as 41-year-old James Watkins) was traveling southbound on McDowell Boulevard in a 2011 Toyota Prius at an accelerated speed. At approximately 7:00pm, Watkins lost control of his vehicle and went over the sidewalk, striking the victim just before entering the roundabout intersection.

The impact of the collision caused the Prius to spin out and land in the middle of the roundabout. Surprisingly, Watkins emerged unharmed and needed no medical attention. Police Lt. Tim Lyons reported that the suspect appeared dazed and incoherent. Upon closer examination, officers suspected he was driving under the influence of narcotics and had him tested at a local hospital. The results of the test will be revealed soon.

The victim received medical attention from two off-duty law enforcement officers and an off-duty nurse who happened to be at the scene of the crime. Once emergency medical personnel arrived, the victim was transported to a nearby hospital. Unfortunately, the man’s injuries were too serious, and he passed away in the hospital.

Subsequently, authorities arrested Watkins and booked him into the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility on suspicion of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter. He also has a pending court date from a 2018 DUI collision arrest in Sonoma County. The investigation is ongoing.

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