The former bridesmaid of a well-known burlesque dancer who died in a car accident south of San Francisco said her friend's husband — now facing possible arrest - was not the type to drink and drive.
The 43-year-old Raul Padilla, a drummer whom his friends called "Bones," was from New York and only learned to drive within the last several years, said Charlene Blaker of San Martin. Blaker was a friend of Sarah Klein, 36, whose stage name was "Sparkly Devil," who died Sunday morning about 2 a.m. along U.S. Highway 101 in Burlingame on her way home from performing a burlesque act in San Francisco.
"He was very anal and strict about driving," Blaker told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday. "He was the type to wear gloves on the wheel. He has no known DUIs since I've known him. I just couldn't imagine him drinking and driving. He would have never done anything to hurt Sparkly."
Padilla's red Honda crashed into a center divide, and a party bus carrying 18 passengers ended up smashing into his car. Ten of those party bus passengers were injured, Padilla was sent to the hospital in critical condition and Klein died. She and Padilla were returning home to San Mateo after she performed a burlesque routine at the Hubba Hubba Revue in San Francisco.
Burlesque is a type of bawdy or comical act and often involves a bit of a strip tease. Klein performed at many venues in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. She was profiled in Comcast's "Something Weird" series and two episodes of TLC's reality series, "LA Ink." On top of that, she was a journalist and co-founded Hubba Hubba.
Shortly after the fatal accident over the long Memorial Day holiday weekend, California Highway Patrol Officer Art Montiel said both Padilla and Klein appeared to have been "intoxicted."
On Tuesday, Montiel said that the blood alcohol toxicology results hadn't come back yet, and Padilla had not been arrested because there were no hard numbers. Montiel said that the officers on scene "smelled alcohol eminating from both their bodies," making them suspect that Padilla had been under the influence of alcohol.
Klein's mother, Julie Thompson Klein, who lives in the Detroit area, told NBC Bay Area she had "no knowledge" of Padilla's behavior as it related to alcohol or drinking and driving.
Through friends' posting on Facebook, Padilla on Tuesday remained at Stanford Medical Center in a medically induced coma. A friend, Alex Terhune, posted on Facebook that Padilla is "showing much stronger signs of improvement....He is able to move his fingers and toes." Doctors were hoping Padilla may pull out of the coma by Wednesday, according to Terhune's post.
Blaker, who attended the couple's burlesque-themed wedding on Oct. 10, 2010 at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, said it's not like the couple never drank; each might have a beer or two.
But Blaker said she didn't know either of them to overindulge. She said her friends are not angry with Padilla; they are all feeling sorry for him. Friends said he and Klein were deeply in love. According to their website, sparklyandbones.com, the pair met in 2008 and were engaged within 24 hours of meeting each other. After a six-month romance between Brooklyn and San Francisco, Padilla moved to the Bay Area.
On Thursday, Sparkly Devil was supposed to have performed at the Burlesque Hall of Fame at The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Jim Sweeney, the executive producer of Hubba Hubba Revue in San Francisco and a friend who officiated at her marriage, said there would be a tribute to her at the gala event.