Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

Triple fatal collision on Highway 154 (Photos: Mike Eliason / SBCFD)

Update by edhat staff
November 7, 2019

California Highway Patrol (CHP) Captain Cindy Pontes held a press conference Thursday afternoon addressing the recent murder charges against John Roderick Dungan in the triple fatal collision on Highway 154 last month.

CHP Captain Cindy Pontes speaking during the press conference

Dungan stated she met with Max Gleason, husband of Rebecca Vanessa Goss Bley and the father of their two children, as well as family members to answer any questions about their investigation. “I believe it’s important to update them prior to bringing this information to the public,” said Pontes. 

Based on the evidence and witness statements that have been accumulated thus far, it’s believed that “Mr. Dungan drove his vehicle into the opposing lane of traffic directly at the vehicle carrying Vanessa and her children,” said Pontes.

CHP arrested Dungan on Tuesday evening when he was released from the hospital and recommended three counts of murder to the District Attorney’s office who filed the charges on Wednesday. CHP also had the bail amount of $2 million changed to no bail. 

John Roderick Dungan’s mugshot

Due to the ongoing investigation, they cannot disclose the evidence that was acquired. Per CHP protocol, a blood sample was retrieved from Dungan to assess any level of intoxication but those results have yet to be determined. However, Pontes did confirm that Dungan did not waive his rights and has not spoken with investigators.

Pontes went on to thank the civilians who stopped at the scene calling their efforts heroic and remarkable after they placed their lives in peril while attempting to save others.

“I want to assure you that the CHP will not rest until we have thoroughly investigated this case and have done everything in our power to seek justice for our victims and their families,” said Pontes.

CHP is asking if anyone has information that could be beneficial to the investigation to contact them at 805-967-1234.

Driver Charged with Murder in Triple Fatal Collision

By edhat staff
November 6, 2019

Santa Barbara County’s District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced the surviving driver of the triple fatal collision on Highway 154 was charged with three counts of murder Wednesday.

John Roderick Dungan, 28 of Santa Barbara, is accused of intentionally crashing his black Chevy Camaro head-on into a Chevy Volt that killed a mother and her two young children on October 25.

John Roderick Dungan’s photo from Facebook

The initial report from California Highway Patrol stated Dungan was traveling westbound on Highway 154 approaching the Cold Spring Bridge when he traveled into the eastbound lane for “unknown reasons” and struck the Chevy Volt. A GMC Yukon, occupied by a father and son, was traveling behind the Volt where they collided and landed off the roadway where both vehicles caught fire and spread to nearby brush. 

The Camaro landed on Cold Spring Bridge where Dungan was extricated and flown to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with severe injuries. The father and son inside the GMC Yukon were able to escape uninjured.

The mother and two children inside the Chevy Volt did not survive. Rebecca Vanessa Goss Bley, 34 of Solvang, 2-year-old Lucienne Bley Gleason, and 4-month-old Desmond Gleason were pronounced dead on the scene. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Coroner confirmed their identities using an ANDE Rapid DNA Instrument.

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

Days later 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. Dungan was reportedly suicidal and homicidal on Friday, October 25, and minutes before authorities could arrive at his home for a welfare check, they were notified of the Highway 154 collision.

It’s unclear if Dungan is still recovering in the hospital from his injuries.

California Highway Patrol Captain Cindy Pontes announced she will meet on Thursday with Bley’s husband, Max Gleason, to provide him with an update on the case and to answer any questions he may have.  

Gleason posted a beautiful and gut-wrenching tribute to his wife and children on Facebook. He expressed in anguish that his family was murdered and a “deliberate act of evil” and stated Dungan deliberately ran his car into Bley’s in an attempt to kill himself and others.

“In thinking about the death of Vanessa, Lu and Dez I am finding some small solace in the thought that their light, collectively, was so strong that it required such strong evil to extinguish their light. Theirs was not blowing out a candle with a breath, it was dumping a bucket of water on a wildfire. It needed something so strong, so violent, in order to counterbalance and honor the light that they were in this world,” Gleason wrote.

Bley, Gleason, and their two children (Photo: Max Gleason/Facebook)

“Touch the people that you love. Hold quiet space with them. Feel them. That is all we have. It is all you have right now, it is all you ever will have. That is the whole point to anything,” Gleason wrote.

The Santa Barbara California Highway Patrol will additionally hold a press conference on Thursday at 3:30 P.M.

Dungan is scheduled to appear in Santa Barbara Superior Court for arraignment on Friday, November 8, 2019. Bail is currently set at $2 million dollars.


 October 29, 2019: Disturbing History of Survivor in Fatal Highway 154 Collision

 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. So many people here stated, with scientific certainty, that reducing the speed limit on Highway 154 from 55 MPH to 45 MPH will stop maniacs like this guy from killing someone. They also want to install a center divider. That’s all well and fine, but what about all the drunks leaving wine tasting rooms and driving on 154? Perhaps the best approach is passing an ordinance restricting wine tasting rooms from serving more than 4 ounces of wine per customer per hour. That would eliminate about half of the drunk drivers on 154, Highway 246 and the rest of the Santa Ynez Valley. Perhaps that is the idea that should be presented to the Board of Supervisors. Perhaps we should also restrict the Casino in their alcohol sales, perhaps no more than 1/2 ounce of alcohol per customer per hour. Seems to me that it’s mostly drunk drivers doing the killing and maiming. We’ve tried the “designated driver” route with the wine tasting room owners and casino. They pour drinks for everyone, regardless. Fat chance the Board of Supervisors, or Hannah Beth Jackson, will do anything meaningful about the wine tasting room and casino drunks, too much profit at stake.

  2. According to the complaint, Dungan is already out on bail. Usually when bail is that high, the defendant cannot afford it. I’m wondering how he posted it??? In any case, I agree that bail should have been revoked. I hope that Mr. Gleason is able to get justice for his family.

  3. You are hoping that this disturbed individual doesn’t harm himself so that society can punish him for his crimes? Not sure I understand the purpose of this. Mostly I read that crime survivors like the husband don’t find much comfort in punishment as it doesn’t bring their loved ones back. But I guess everyone is different.

  4. You know, I’m a fan of the death penalty for heinous crimes. This is a heinous crime, but I have no problem with him rotting in prison for the rest of his life, preferably in solitary confinement because the other inmates will hopefully torture him, alone with his thoughts. No problem with that at all.

  5. The picture of this guy attached to this article shows him holding a bottle of Wild Turkey. I suggested that perhaps, as a society, we should address the issue of alcohol abuse, which may reduce the incidents of people killing and maiming people after they get drunk.

  6. Not seeing much about Judge Adams who let this guy loose, with a known heavy charge hanging over him, and concurrent bad behavior, stalking, weapons charges – so what is depression and antidepressants a get out of jail on bail automatic?
    Were I the judge, I’d keep folks like him locked up, just because they are know to be unpredictable, and with not just mental health issues, but frank, present dangerous and threatening behaviors.
    Maybe the next judge and jury will give him the Attias get out of jail free experience – I was depressed and suicidal, not my fault.
    Our system is broken by progressive weasels who try to explain everything away, don’t want to be mean. But a guy like this can destroy.
    I’m sick.

  7. I believe he chose his victims for maximum effect. He drove over the bridge towards the lake where it became a 4 lane highway, then did a U turn and passed cars until he found his victims. Then he sped way ahead, crossed the bridge, did another U turn, parked on the side of the road and waited for the Volt to cross the bridge. Everything went as planned except he didn’t die. He was wearing a GPS ankle bracelet so it was all tracked. With this evidence he would be convicted.

  8. You believe that based upon what?? Where has it referenced the gps? I’m expecting it was location for dramatic effect, he likely had no idea of what the occupants were. Maybe he will help us out and tell what his thought process actually was… Probably not tho.

  9. The Santa Barbara Independent published a Letter to the Editor from a family member of one of Dungan’s stalking victims. That letter, in no uncertain terms, put the blame squarely on Joyce Dudley for allowing Dungan to be released back into society. In stark wording, the letter writer said that Vanessa and her children would be alive today if Dudley had done her job. Good thing that letter writer’s name was withheld by the Independent, considering how commenters here treat people who dare challenge the status quo.

  10. We all know this guy’s guilty, I’m in no way trying to take away from that, but… Nobody yet has mentioned that if the driver in the SUV, behind the victims in the Chevy, had been driving safely (legally) he would have left room between himself and the vehicle in front of him (The deceased) to break, before colliding with it. Wasn’t it after they were hit by the vehicle behind them (presumably following too closely to stop in case of accident) that the victims car caught fire? We all need to learn how to drive more defensively.

  11. I don’t think this is fair. Even if you allow two car lengths between you, if the car in front of you is struck HEAD ON at a high speed, forward movement will be literally stopped. Don’t see how there would be ample time to avoid it. It was stated that the SUV swerved to the right to try to avoid it, and the Volt was likely thrown to the right from the impact. PLEASE do not blame the people in the SUV. If you want to spout off generalized lessons, do it elsewhere without speculating and causing more pain.

  12. CHP was out ticketing the pass at rush out this evening. Saw someone pulled over. Good to see. Of course one do gooder was signaling all of us that a cop was ahead.
    My understanding is that there’s a meeting of the supervisors with CHP on 11/12.

  13. I can’t even look at the pics – every time I see that little baby my heart hurts and tears spring out of my eyes. Just so senseless and unnecessary and preventable. How many people have to die before we get tougher with people like this? I’m sorry but there is a point where their civil rights no longer trump our right to be safe from them. He should have been locked away in a facility.

  14. @ 5:59pm – so you leave six to seven car lengths between you on the freeway? Right, sure. I’ve driven the Pass hundreds of times. On a Friday at 4:45pm, I am sure it was very busy. There is no one – and I mean absolutely NO ONE aside from the extreme slowpokes – leaving more than two car lengths between them. This is actually just right for the speed. Except when some psychopath decides to hit innocent people head on. Please don’t make this about anyone other than that POS.

  15. Death penalty in California is a joke and has been for a long time. Instead of actually punishing people who deserve it most, it affords them multiple more appeal avenues than are available to non-death row inmates. Given that CA hasn’t executed anyone in decades, it’s a huge waste of public money and resources. This isn’t to say I disagree with the death penalty – I am all for it’s use to punish heinous crimes, but it needs massive revamping in our state. Until that happens, it should be avoided completely.

  16. It’s public knowledge. Go to the SB Superior Court Smart Search and type in his name. You will see everything there. Authorities are focused on the current investigation, not hand-feeding information that is already there for the taking with a little research.

  17. if anyone thinks about how the “timing” would have to be done in order to, “find a car” turn around, then “find the car again” turn around, and hit it. Its literally impossible to do.
    lets wait for the ACTUAL FACTS

  18. If flashing lights warning someone or putting it on Waze gets people to slow down then it is the same result as seeing CHP or getting a ticket. The object isn’t to just ticket the hell out of people but to get them to slow down on the road.

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