A Morro Bay pastor was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Los Osos Sunday night.
The California Highway Patrol says Dale Paulsen, 67, of Los Osos was walking westbound on the shoulder of Ramona Avenue when he was hit by a pickup truck east of Pine Avenue at about 5:30 p.m.
Officers say the driver left the scene but was later detained and arrested on suspicion of driving drunk.
Paulsen had served as the pastor of Morro Bay Presbyterian Church for nearly 24 years.
He announced his retirement to the congregation on Sunday after more than 40 years in ministry.
“He was full of life and love and laughter and that’s a great loss,” said Erica King, church member.
“Did this really happen?” questioned Lynne Oliverius, Morro Bay Presbyterian Church Worship Director. “We were just here together worshipping the Lord, praising together, and pastor got to announce his retirement yesterday.”
Members of the church are trying to wrap their head around this sudden loss. February 2019 would have marked his 24th year with the church.
“On Wednesday, we set his favorite songs for his retirement service and now I’m setting those songs for his funeral,” Oliverius continued.
Pastor Dale is described by family and friends as a man of faith and integrity.
“He would go to the park in Morro Bay and talk to the guys that were there, the guys that were struggling, and see if he could help them in any way,” Oliverius explained.
He was a family man, married for more than four decades with three children and seven grandchildren.
He also enjoyed what he did.
“He did always open his sermons with jokes,” King said. “Sometimes several in a row. ‘Groaners,’ he would call them sometimes.”
The congregation adds that his death will leave a big gap in the church but they’ll continue to pray.
“We know we’ll see him again,” Oliverius concluded. “I know he is chatting with the Lord right now.”
January 6 would have been his last sermon.
The church says the pastor will be honored during Sunday’s service at 10 a.m.
The Paulsen family released the following statement on Monday:
“Dale Paulsen died tragically last night on his favorite walk along the bay. He was a man of faith and of integrity who served Jesus with his wife Emily for over 40 years in ministry. Dale is survived by his wife, also by his 3 sons and their wives and 7 young grandchildren who were looking forward to so much fun with him in his retirement and loved him very much.”
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Emily Bales, 24, of Los Osos was booked at around 9 p.m. Sunday and released from custody at around midnight. Her bail was $100,000.