Driver Intentionally Crashed into Family, CHP States
Triple fatal collision on Highway 154 (Photos: Mike Eliason / SBCFD)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
"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.