Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

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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

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Show Comments
therealbebe Nov 07, 2019 04:39 PM
Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

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.

a-1573178370 Nov 07, 2019 05:59 PM
Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

Two car lengths? You know the car length rule, right? One car length for every 10mph of speed. The Yukon should have been, at the very least, for 45mph, about five lengths back.

Abc109 Nov 07, 2019 07:30 PM
Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

@ 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.

a-1573236051 Nov 08, 2019 10:00 AM
Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

I've been wondering this myself. News reports I read did state that the SUV was following closely behind, and it's when that car hit the deceased's car that it burst into flames. I know it's playing the what if game, but still, a reminder to all of us to leave more distance in front of us when driving.

a-1573181377 Nov 07, 2019 06:49 PM
Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

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.

a-1573230660 Nov 08, 2019 08:31 AM
Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

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.

CoralineJones Nov 07, 2019 06:56 PM
Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

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.

Seabird Nov 07, 2019 10:00 PM
Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

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.

a-1573241488 Nov 08, 2019 11:31 AM
Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

He is mentally ill. Which means that if he is suicidal in jail they will move him over to PHP where he will be under the same psychiatrist that released him before. The do move inmates in with the general population on various psych holds but just station one sheriff deputy to keep an eye on them.

Bene Nov 08, 2019 04:08 PM
Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States

I hope people will focus on how to bring comfort and peace to the grieving family of that lovely woman and children. Nothing will erase the pain for that family, not hating or executing Dungan or platitudes. But surely there are things people can do to ease some of the pain. Maybe take up a collection to help or something positive to lift them up and help them cope with the sadness and loss.


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