Driver Charged with Manslaughter in Fatal Head-on Traffic Collision

Update by Santa Barbara County District Attorney
November 17, 2021

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced today that a felony complaint has been filed against Jose Fermin Lopez, 24, of Santa Barbara.  The charges stem from a collision on November 14, 2021 on Carrillo Street near Miramonte Drive, in Santa Barbara that resulted in the death of Steven Carlson.  Lopez was the driver and sole occupant of a 2009 Nissan Altima that swerved out of its lane and into oncoming traffic striking a 1992 Mercedes-Benz driven by Carlson.

Mr. Lopez is charged with the following felony counts: one count of murder in violation of Penal Code section 187(a), one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in violation of Penal Code section 191.5(a), one count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, in violation of Vehicle Code section 23153(a), and one count of driving with a .08% or higher blood alcohol content causing injury, in violation of Vehicle Code section 23153(b).  Additionally, it is further alleged that Mr. Lopez personally inflicted great bodily injury within the meaning of Penal Code section 12022.7(a).

Mr. Lopez was arraigned today, November 17, 2021, from the hospital, where he is recovering from the injuries he sustained in the collision.   Mr. Lopez did not enter a plea, and the arraignment was continued to November 22, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 8 of the Santa Barbara Superior Court.  Bail has been set at $2,000,000.

Update by Santa Barbara Police Department
November 17, 2021

The Santa Barbara Police Department has identified the driver that died in the November 14, 2021, fatal traffic collision as 71-year-old, Steven Doyle Carlson.
This case is still under investigation.


Update by Santa Barbara Police Department
November 15, 2021

On November 14, 2021, around 8:20pm, the Santa Barbara Police Department Combined Communications Center received numerous reports of a serious traffic collision that had just occurred in the area of West Carrillo Street and Miramonte Drive. Callers stated two vehicles had been involved in a head-on collision and it appeared both drivers sustained extensive injuries from the crash.
Multiple officers, firefighters, and paramedics responded to the collision. Upon arrival, officers located a chaotic scene. The initial investigation showed two vehicles had collided head-on, and the only occupants in each of the vehicles were the drivers. Both the drivers needed to be extricated by the Santa Barbara City Fire Department and both were transported by ambulance to Cottage Hospital Emergency Room for medical treatment.
It appears a red Nissan sedan, driven by Jose Fermin Lopez Jr., was traveling west on West Carrillo Street at a high rate of speed and without headlights on. It is believed Lopez’s vehicle drifted into the lane of oncoming traffic. An older model Mercedes sedan was driving east on West Carrillo Street at that time. Lopez’s vehicle collided head-on with the Mercedes. Lopez Jr. is a 24-year-old Santa Barbara resident.
The driver of the Mercedes was treated at the hospital but tragically succumbed to injuries sustained in the collision and was pronounced dead several hours after the collision occurred.
Officers believed Lopez was under the influence of alcohol and a DUI investigation was completed.  Search and arrest warrants were approved by a Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge and Lopez was placed under arrest. He is suspected of being at fault for the collision.
Lopez Jr. is being charged with felony DUI Causing Death and felony Vehicular Manslaughter. Once released from the hospital, Lopez will be booked in Santa Barbara County Jail.
The Critical Accident Reconstruction Team responded to investigate the collision further. This case is currently under investigation and the name of the decedent is being withheld pending notification of family.

By Scanner Andrew
8:25 p.m., November 14, 2021

A head-on traffic collision occurred on Carrillo near Miramonte with two drivers injured.

Video by Scanner Andrew


Written by SBPDPIO

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  1. Has anyone else noticed other drivers are playing chicken on the roadways recently? They drive in the middle of the road until you pull off the road – even when there is plenty of room for both cars to pass. Is this some sort of latest sick internet meme scheme?

  2. How about we put speed sensors with cameras on these roads. But you don’t get a ticket- they just tell your insurance company that you were speeding, so your insurance goes up. I bet if they did that, people would slow down, if it hurt them in their pocketbook.
    but I am a pretty slow driver in general so maybe the speeders would all be totally against this.

  3. Crazily DUI covictions rarely amount in severe or longterm penalties. I just do not understand it. I remember when I was in high school here some crazy pilled out Montecito lady killed a UPS driver on Coast Village. His daughters went to my school. I believe she got a few years of probation. It’s absolutely demented. I don’t understand why DUIs do not confer automatic permanent loss of a drivers license at a minimum (I think this only happens on your third DUI) and MUCH longer prison sentences.

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