Morro Bay Presbyterian Church Pastor Dale Paulsen is survived by his wife, three sons and seven grandchildren

By Karen Mizoguchi
November 20, 2018 05:06 PM
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Credit: Morro Bay Presbyterian Church/Facebook

Just hours after a California pastor announced he was retiring, he was reportedly killed in a hit-and-run.

On Sunday, Morro Bay Presbyterian Church Pastor Dale Paulsen celebrated 40 years in ministry and nearly 24 years at the church with his loved ones and congregation, according to the San Louis Obispo Tribune.

Shortly after, the 67-year-old father of three from Los Osos was taking a walk when was fatally struck by a pickup truck driven by 24-year-old Emily Bales, who immediately fled the scene, the California Highway Patrol told the Tribune.

Bales was later found and arrested on four felonies, including gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, fleeing the scene of a vehicle crash and two other potential charges related to driving under the influence of alcohol, the outlet reported. She was released from custody on $100,000 bail, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

The California Highway Patrol did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. It was unclear if Bales has retained an attorney who could comment on her behalf.

emily-bales
Emily Bales
| Credit: San Luis Obispo County Jail

“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,” the Paulsen family said in a statement provided to local news outlet KSBY.

Dale is survived by his wife, three sons and seven grandchildren.

Members of the Morro Bay Presbyterian Church also mourned the tragic death of their beloved pastor, whose last sermon was scheduled for Jan. 6.

“He was full of life and love and laughter and that’s a great loss,” church member Erica King told KSBY.

King added to the Tribune, “One moment you’re going about your business and the next, you’ve run headlong into an immovable object. And you recoil and you say, ‘This can’t be happening,’ but it just did.”