Disturbing History of Survivor in Fatal Highway 154 Crash

Chevy Volt and GMC Yukon following the collision (Photo: Mike Eliason / SBCFD)

By edhat staff

A disturbing history has been revealed of the survivor in the Highway 154 collision that killed a woman and two children on Friday.

On October 25 around 4:45 p.m., a 2014 Chevy Camaro driven by 28-year-old John Roderick Dungan was traveling westbound on Highway 154 approaching the Cold Spring Bridge. The Camaro traveled into the eastbound lane for “unknown reasons” and struck a Chevy Volt driven by Rebecca Vanessa Goss Bley, 34, with two young children in the backseat. A GMC Yukon behind the Volt collided with Bley’s vehicle where they both ended off the roadway and caught fire, according to the California Highway Patrol. 

Bley and the two children were pronounced dead on the scene while Dungan was extricated from his vehicle and flown to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with severe injuries.

Rebecca Vanessa Goss Bley (Photo: Facebook)

The Independent released a detailed history of Dungan including charges of stalking an ex-girlfriend, gun possession, and severe mental illness with an involuntary stay at a psychiatric hospital.

Santa Barbara authorities received information that Dungan was suicidal and homicidal on Friday, October 25. Minutes before they arrived at his home for a welfare check, they were notified of the Highway 154 collision, reports Tyler Hayden of The Independent.

Authorities have not yet determined if this collision was accidental or intentional. 

The Independent uncovered a series of mental health checks on Dungan including one this past February after he expressed suicidal ideation. Officials found numerous guns, armor plating in his Camaro, and $40,000 in cash which he stated is due to his professional poker playing.

John Roderick Dungan (Photo: Facebook)

Dungan was subsequently placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold and had his weapons confiscated before being transferred to a psychiatric facility in Southern California where he was diagnosed with major depressive disorder with severe psychotic symptoms.

Two ex-girlfriends stated they were scared of Dungan and where one took out a restraining order where he was charged with felony stalking. The full article can be read here.

Law enforcement has yet to release any further information on Dungan’s current status or charges in this incident. 


 October 27, 2019: Solvang Woman Identified in Fatal Highway 154 Collision

 October 25, 2019: Triple Fatal Collision Closes Highway 154, Sparks Wildfire

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. I agree that as much as we already knew most of this from speculation – how did his mental health records get released? I could understand if they were subpoenaed at his trial but not less than a week after his accident. Now that I know all this, I want to know how he was released in 2 days with 10 mg of Lexapro that takes up to 6 weeks to reach an effective dose? FYI: This Pasadena facility is where they ship you if the 11 beds in PHF (Psychiatric Hold Facilty) in SB is full. The closest facility is Pasadena.

  2. You don’t understand. I have been through the mental health system in Santa Barbara. There isn’t much they can do to detain someone but releasing someone after a 5150 given his past history and with a dose of medication that is not effective in 2 days is really CRIMINAL on the part of the mental health system. Dr. Lee is a very good psychiatrist but there isn’t much that she could do in Santa Barbara if he was taken to Pasadena. He should have been put on a 5250 hold or even a 30 day hold (the maximum they can hold someone) given his previous history with the law and cache of weapons. The enabler in this case is the mental health system in Santa Barbara County if not in the whole of California.

  3. Folks! Just because he was “suicidal,” doesn’t mean he intentionally hit her car head on. He could have been recklessly changing lanes. We won’t know until he speaks up or witnesses testify to his car’s movements. PLEASE avoid the temptation to “solve” this based on news reports.

  4. What a complete tragedy on every level. The loss of such a beautiful woman and her children breaks my heart. Now this man’s family, and his doctors, have to live with the knowledge that this never had to happen. Our mental health system is completely broken.

  5. Horrible tragedy no matter the state of mind of the “survivor.” I do agree that the Independent and Edhat may be in violation of federal law here for releasing mental health information. Let’s see what explanation is given.

  6. I’m not bashing journalism in general, but Independent isn’t a good example to look up to. And that journalist in particular. Juicy stuff is what’s most important there. Ethics and innocent until proven guilty? None comes to Tyler Madden’s mind.

  7. Good on Hayden and The Independent. People should know about all of this. It’s not only news, it’s educational. We need more and better laws to protect us from suicidal and homicidal individuals. The system that allows these mentally ill persons to walk amongst us, while stalking and making verbal and written threats to others is not a healthy, vigilant system. For pity’s sake. This guy was TELLING people he wanted to harm himself and others. Shades of Elliot Rodger. Thank gawd Dungan’s weapons were confiscated. All that’s missing is The Manifesto.

  8. A little distraction from the topic, but it is notable Peter Lance, another journalist, had a feud with Tyler Hayden of this Independent article. It appears it originated from Independent under-reported a case involving police DUI and police officer’s false reporting of another. http://peterlance.com/wordpress/?p=9857
    As it seems, someone got cozy with the law enforcement for the juicy stuff, he couldn’t control the urge to spit it out there regardless of ethics or truth, and maybe in return gives a hands-off on reporting their misdeeds. Nice. use your own judgement and compass.

  9. This makes me very concerned about the privacy of my mental health records. I have no criminal history, guns, violence, manifesto, or record of wishing harm to others but the same agency that leaked his info has mine. Leaking mine could lead to me losing my job which in turn could cause me to lose my housing and ability to be a productive part of society. This sets a dangerous precedent of tabloid journalism.

  10. According to one of his ex girlfriends he was psychotic when she dated him. He apparently had an established psychotic disorder yet was released with a prescription for an antidepressant. It’s important to distinguish between the seriously mentally ill who are undergoing effective treatment for their psychosis and the ones who are unmedicated with antipsychotics. Successfully treated people with schizophrenia can be highly functional and easily “walk among us”. However unmedicated people experiencing psychosis are a greater danger to themselves and others than the general population. It’s unfair to paint all mentally ill people with the same brush.

  11. So I see the “Pre Crime” unit is alive and well on Edhat. As is the CYA governmental agency who coincidentally happened to be doing a safety check that day on this guy. As for the accident, if you’ve driven down the slope from East Camino Cielo to Cold Springs Bridge into the SYV, then you know a vehicle can get a lot of speed going down this hill. It’s two lanes in both directions. It then collapses into one lane right before the bridge. The bridge itself funnels cars even tighter as there’s no shoulder. Add in the fencing rails to prevent jumpers, it’s a truly strange effect for anyone crossing the bridge who’s not done it before. A vehicle could easily get to 90 mph plus, raising the ease of drifting across the double yellow and into oncoming traffic. It is terrible and truly sad for the deceased and her family and friends. For all of us in fact.

  12. I’m confused by both of you. Did you READ the father’s words? He clearly knows that true evil was found in the man who killed his family. His world has been destroyed by this sick, demented person. What are we doing wrong by agreeing that this guy was totally perverse and wicked? You make no sense.

  13. SBTOWNIE – has sick as this man may have been, we don’t know if he intentionally caused this tragic wreck. THAT is the point I and many others have been trying to make. No one knows yet, other than the driver himself, whether crossing the line was intentional or just stupid and reckless. There is a HUGE difference between those. I can’t imagine the pain the father is feeling, but they just don’t know yet why it happened. When they do, then please by all means voice your anger, but doing so now isn’t helping anyone.

  14. I drove through Yosemite this fall and there are numerous pull over spots that ensure safety. It would add an extra blanket of comfort to implement this simple solution to help those who travel regularly on 154. Let me be clear… the pull over areas are not an extra traveling lane. There should be a pull over lane and guard rails in both directions near the cold Spring Bridge.

  15. Also, don’t you have better things to do than make excuses for deranged men with a history of stalking? Really who cares what his motive was at that exact moment. He’s messed up, has a trail of incidents to prove it, and now killed three innocents. Is your priority really making sure we don’t prematurely judge the motives of someone with a record like this who admired Elliot Rodger?!

  16. AND ONE MORE THING – How will they ever know? Based on your line of reasoning – that we should just “wait and see what the motive was” – all this lunatic has to do is say, “I didn’t mean to do it” and he’s off the hook. TERRIBLE, terrible logic. It’s not up to him to tell us what his motive was in the exact moment. He has a TRACK RECORD, and now it’s time to hold him to account.

  17. There is literally no way to discern his motive. Are you suggesting we just ask him and go with whatever he says? That we believe a man with a history of stalking and admiration for Elliot Rodger? I’m not a moron and I know how the law works.

  18. You will note that following mass shooting, and the likely behavior of this man, everyone bemoans the insufficient availability of mental health treatment. Well, mental health treatment does not work well for those whose personality and disorders tilt them away from treatment. As this man.
    Why would Judge Adams release a man who seemed unhinged in the courtroom? Why would he be inquiring of the defense attorney? Why would he not have remanded the man into custody and ordered a forensic psychiatric evaluation? And when in doubt, even then, simply revoked his bail – just to be on the safe side, just to protect the public.
    If his answer is that the laws don’t permit it, then change the laws! We have so many instances where friends, family, distant relatives know the perking danger. Yet these losers go out and act on their deranged thoughts and destroy lives around them.
    Plain and simple: This man had illegal weapons, was facing sentencing for that, and his mental status was unquestionably off.- and not just off, but dangerous! Look at his stalking, his conversations, his behavior. Would that not be good reason to deny bail or release from jail pending sentencing?
    We’re seeing an uptick in the justice system and progressive advocates claiming that individuals need treatment not jail. Dudes like this need jail, or more, and then in jail they can receive treatment. They don’t belong in society. Neither did Elliot Rogers or David Attias, who is now free as a bird, without a criminal conviction to his name, because some slick lawyer successfully argued the insanity plea. Our justice system is a joke. It’s a get out of jail system for the mentally ill with family or money. Protecting the public is the last thing on their minds.

  19. This Dungan guy *only* slaughtered three people. David Attias (Isla Vista, 2001) killed five with his car and he’s out walking around since 2012, free as a bird. Attias’ “payment” for his crime? 10 years in a state mental institution. If Dungan denies he intentionally crossed over those double yellow lines, and you can damn well bet his attorney will tell him to say just that, he’ll get away with this, most assuredly. Another grand perversion of justice.

  20. SBTOWNIE – you pretty clearly don’t know how the law works. Do you suggest that just because this guy is a piece of garbage, that he be automatically charged with intentional homicide, whether it was intentional or not? I just want to be sure you’re saying what it sounds like you’re saying.

  21. Hey Jon, calm down. No, I don’t suggest that. I suggest a pattern of evidence based on all history be taken into account when deciding how to charge him. Not what he claims was or was not his motive. I never said anything like what you are suggesting. What I objected to was being told – not sure if it was by you, or another commenter – that people suggesting the perp is “evil” and “killed” the family was out of line and somehow disrespectful to a man who has lost everything due to this sicko. I disagree that is it in any way disrespectful to pass judgement on Dungan and his despicable history. It makes complete sense and commenters here saying we are somehow making the world a worse place for doing so can take a hike.

  22. SBTOWNIE – yeah, you are suggesting just that, but in more words. You’ve explicitly stated you don’t “care about his motive.” Yeah, we need to take all facts into account, but you’re not doing that. It’s disrespectful to speculate in general. I don’t give a rats patootey about the driver. He was/is a sick person, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to make assumptions and speculate about this horrible tragedy. You do you, though.

  23. Cool. Yeah, Jon. Let’s go with Bird’s idea. Mechanical failure is what caused this. A suicidal maniac with a mental illness, a personality disorder, and a history of harassment and stalking who loved guns and Elliot Rodger kills 3 people. Definitely sounds like mechanical failure to me. But I’ll wait for the “facts” and see what the very reliable Mr. Dungan has to say for himself. We can definitely rely on that. We’re talking murder (2nd) or manslaughter, not whether he gets charged or not. There are no other options. His vehicle did not fail. But, yeah, “you do you,” too, boo, and keep thinking whatever you want. We’ll meet back here to assess the charges once the DA decides between murder and manslaughter. Dungan is done.

  24. Jon, one last thing… just curious if you even read the news about Dungan? The cops were at his house that afternoon for a suicide-concern welfare check when they got the call that he had been involved in a fatal collision. But sure, again, mechanical failure sounds likely.

  25. SBTOWNIE – There you go again…. you’re really impossible. Calm yourself down and be rational, not reactive. There are other reasons for a car driving down the backside of 154 right before the bridge to hit oncoming traffic right where 2 lanes become one. Reckless driving/passing is not the same as intentionally driving head first into oncoming traffic. Not saying it’s one or the other, just trying to impress the importance of not jumping to conclusions. Honestly, it’s like banging my head against a wall in here, so…. I’m out. Have fun.

  26. SBTOWNIE – Yeah I read it, so what? Doesn’t mean he did it intentionally. Also, I never said it was mechanical failure, that IS unlikely. BUT, given his state, reckless driving (WHICH IS NOT INTENTIONAL MURDER) is a likely cause of this tragedy. Again, could be I’m wrong, but the facts aren’t in on either side. Now…. hush up and go outside for breath of air.

  27. Independent news report and Hayden thrive on making a juicy story out of people’s misery. There is no penalty to point fingers and throw people’s stories, true or relevant or not, out there. Peter Lance didn’t have nice things to say about Tyler Hayden and Independent.
    Peter is a five time Emmy award and Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award winner.

  28. Curious about the extent of the murderer’s injuries. I don’t usually wish bad things for people but hoping he won’t physically be capable of harming anyone else. What he did is beyond wrong, no words to describe how knowing he intended this makes me feel. The husband wrote about some of his thoughts and feelings, it’s beautifully gut wrenching.

  29. The quality of some of these comments is staggering. It may be that he lost control of his car, either because of a mechanical failure or something in the roadway or even because of a distraction. …I’d imagine that the survivor, the husband and father, would prefer that to thinking that someone intentionally took the lives of his family and I hope he and her family does not read these comments. Noozhawk has a touching story about him.

  30. POG–Yeah, sadly for the mom and kids he probably acted in the moment to kill himself. Fortunately for possibly many potential victims, he didn’t plan and execute a mass shooting in downtown Santa Barbara–or in the poker room at the Chumash where you probably waste a lot of your time.

  31. Chillin, your really just stating the obvious here. Yeah, no one knows if he did it on purpose but him. You think you’ve unearthed some brilliant logical deduction by reaching that conclusion?
    And, strangely, you willfully ignore the very high probability that, with his pattern of behavior, the likelihood that it was an accident vs. an intentional act is clearly lower than if the facts of his past behavior and mindset were more stable.
    It’s really pretty ridiculous.

  32. This is not a comment re: facts of the collision. This is a comment re: several comments/a conversation on this thread, which seems to be a group who knows each other and which “member” is posting anonymously. I saw what happened on Independent website comments. Please take it down a notch or find somewhere else to play!! Sheesh. Take it outside = take it to messaging/email. PLEASE!

  33. Chillin–speculation? How about facts? The guy was a stalker. He admired Eliot Rodgers. He amassed a firearms collection with illegals guns included. He put armor plates in his car. He sent out statements to everyone on his phone that he was suicidal. Police had a wellness call on him that he was suicidal and homicidal hours before he “accidentally” went head on in to a car. Are you serious? The guy was a complete mess and a tragedy in the making–and that’s what happened.

  34. Okay so his suicidal homicidal statements on the day of the tragedy don’t indicate to you that he was likely to have been at least driving recklessly and at worst intentionally went head on and killed three people. Really.

  35. ALEXBLUE – Yes, those are all facts. The problem is, just because there are facts about this horrible mess of a person, doesn’t mean that’s the reason his car hit her’s. It could have been reckless driving, it could have been intentional, it could have been to avoid something in the road. You don’t know, I don’t know, the investigators don’t know….NOBODY knows at this point. Everyone seems to be making the faulty jump in logic – if he was a bad guy and said he wanted to hurt people, then when his car hit another it was because he was a bad guy and he wanted to hurt people. There’s a gap in that thinking. You are ignoring (because of emotion likely – and that’s OK, we’re all human) the possibilities of other causes of this tragedy. Be patient and wait for the investigators to do their jobs.

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