Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

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Triple fatal collision on Highway 154 (Photos: Mike Eliason / SBCFD)
The latest update on this story and the victim's identities can be viewed here.

Update by edhat staff
7:00 a.m., October 26, 2019
​Highway 154 was reopened at 1:00 a.m. Saturday. 
Update by edhat staff
6:00 p.m., October 25, 2019
Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesperson Mike Eliason has confirmed three people have died in the vehicle collision.
The initial investigation reveals the male driver of a black Camaro traveling westbound crossed over the double yellow lines and hit a Chevy Volt traveling eastbound where the two vehicles spun out and rested on the shoulder. A Denali SUV traveling behind the Volt also collided with the two vehicles, said Eliason. 
Three people inside the Volt were confirmed dead on arrival, a woman and two children. The male driver of the Camaro was extricated and transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital by a CalStar helicopter with life-threatening injuries. 
The collision caused the Denali and Volt to catch fire which spread to nearby brush. The Camaro came to rest on the Cold Spring Bridge. Firefighters from the Los Padres National Forest Service responded to the scene and were able to quickly jump on the fire due to low winds, said Eliason. 
The fire is under control and crews are on scene mopping up. Highway 154 is currently closed. The cause of the collision is under investigation. 
Photo: Mike Eliason / SBCFD
[Editor's Note: Initial reports from firefighters on the scene identified the Chevy Volt as a Toyota Prius]

Update by edhat staff
5:15 p.m., October 25, 2019

Caltrans has shut down Highway 154 near Cold Spring Bridge due to a brush fire that started from a fatal vehicle collision.

Santa Barbara County firefighters are on the scene with crews for the Los Padres National Forest.

The initial vehicle collision caused two critical injuries and required extrication. California Highway Patrol is now reporting two fatalities.

Edhat will update this article with more information as it becomes available. 

Photo by an edhat reader

Reported by Roger the Scanner Guy
4:51 p.m., October 25, 2019

Vehicle collision and fire on Highway 154 at Cold Springs Bridge.

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a-1572298000 Oct 28, 2019 02:26 PM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

PITMIX - good idea. ANYthing to slow people down is good. But the most important deterrent I think is enforcement. Let's beef up patrols on the 154, triple the fines, set up radar traps. Do SOMETHING to stop the weekly carnage!

erinmackey Oct 28, 2019 12:56 PM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

please sign and share this petition and write to our local officials to prevent more senseless deaths in our community. Thank you .

User12345 Oct 28, 2019 10:48 AM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

A new experimental law enforcement patrol that combines a sheriff’s deputy with a mental health outreach worker conducted a welfare check this Saturday on a potentially suicidal 27-year-old Santa Barbara city resident who had a collection of 16 weapons, at least one of which was buried in the backyard. The Crisis Intervention Team, as it’s called, conducted a welfare check on the 27-year-old after he texted relatives a long and ominous note that they interpreted to be suicidal.

Law enforcement reportedly received two calls of concern in response. The subject also made remarks expressing admiration for Isla Vista mass murderer Elliot Rodger, who has emerged as a poster child of sorts for the involuntary celibacy movement. The subject of the welfare check reportedly put up no resistance. At least seven law enforcement officers — from both the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and Santa Barbara Police Department — were on hand. The subject is reportedly an accomplished professional poker player and lives at home with his parents. Authorities found $44,000 in cash in his room.

According to one of the agents involved in the action, all the guns found thus far are legally registered; some — a short gun and a long gun — appeared to have been custom made. The handguns were large caliber weapons, and at least some of the weapons had been illegally altered to make them effectively fully automatic. The weapon buried in the yard was a long rifle. The search, however, continues. The subject was taken to Cottage Hospital where a 5150 determination was made, meaning the subject posed an imminent threat to himself or others and could be held up to 72 hours against his will. To date, there’s no evidence that a crime has taken place. Because of the threatening remarks, the Santa Barbara police have executed a gun violence restraining order, meaning the guns have been seized and will be held pending a judicial determination.

This is reportedly not the first contact law enforcement have had with the subject. More than a year ago, officers pulled him over during a traffic stop and discovered nine weapons in the car as well as body armor. There being no evidence of a crime, he was let go. The subject has not come to the attention of mental health workers before, and there’s no evidence he’s received any therapy. The Sheriff’s department started deploying the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) last September to better respond to criminal behavior linked to mental health problems.

Initially the two members — Sheriff’s Deputy James McKarrell and Behavioral Wellness crisis worker Bradley Crable — went out on patrol together one day a week every other week. The program proved popular, and the frequency of joint patrol has increased. It went from every Wednesday, to now Wednesday to Saturday. Ongoing funding for this program remains an unresolved issue.

a-1572190735 Oct 27, 2019 08:38 AM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

So horrible that the douchebag who hit her already had a police record and his injuries are “life threatening”. There’s a reason the news articles are saying ‘for unknown reasons’ he crossed the double yellow lines. They cannot prove in court that he chose to change lanes which would be murder, so they set it up for manslaughter conviction. ....if he survives.....

a-1572154510 Oct 26, 2019 10:35 PM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

Bad day at the Mash for Dungan? He's a gambler. Not much else out there on him besides numerous poker player profiles. Driving like an asshole after another day of losses?

a-1572145887 Oct 26, 2019 08:11 PM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

Name published in Noozhawk. Rebecca Vanessa Goss Bley (35) with a newborn and 2 year old. Refugio Vineyards. Exceptionally talented young woman with an equally talented husband. Lovely Instagram accounts. Hope they became Buddhas.

Luvaduck Oct 26, 2019 07:22 PM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

Bring free driver's training back to the local high schools. Not everyone can afford to pay for a course for their kids and many aren't adequately trained to be a driver's training teacher themselves, not to mention able to find time, not being high-strung or tired, and having enough patience to do it.

tagdes Oct 26, 2019 07:06 PM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

This story is still full of errors, Ed better check some other sources or get a proof reader. Per CHP commander it was a Chevy Volt, not a Prius, the Denali hit the Volt not the Camero and the Camero never caught on fire. Look at the photo, does that look like the Camero had been resting on the shoulder or was ever on fire. Sorry for being back so soon, but the litany of miss-information was more than I could stand.

Davidb Oct 26, 2019 04:20 PM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

I drive the pass over and back every work day - and have seen my share of crazy driving. Several times I have had to take evasive action when an oncoming car crossed over into my lane. Fortunately, I was able to recover, and there was no drama. I agree with those who suggest a physical barrier between the lanes. I would choose "Jersey Wall" (the concrete sections used for road construction projects).

a-1572131019 Oct 26, 2019 04:03 PM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

One theme I see repeated in comments is that some drivers get frustrated by slower drivers, which causes them to pass unsafely. No. If you are frustrated, get over it. Breathe deeply, pay attention, and pass when it is safe. A slow driver does not cause your unsafe move. The slower driver should pull over when possible, but if they don’t, too bad. Chill out and live another day.

a-1572303756 Oct 28, 2019 04:02 PM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

PSTARS - you're not getting off the hook that easy..... how on earth do you have the audacity to sit there and say who's fault it was? Not only that, but "no one is innocent?" 2 young children, one an infant, where brutally killed. Where they not innocent? You make me sick.

Tc@analytics805 Oct 26, 2019 01:39 PM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

It says the trans-am, a heavy and fast five liter car, was traveling west across the cold-springs bridge at 5:23 PM so that likely would also have to mean the sun was in his eyes or certainly in his face. Blinded, he lost track of his lane and bamo. Or he just fell asleep or was drunk. There's no indication he was passing or speeding although either are possible. A real tragedy for everyone.

I'd say why not place concrete barriers between all the two lane stretches so at least it keeps people apart on the tight stretches.

stewart14 Oct 26, 2019 10:54 AM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

Unfortunately the GPS nav systems built into cars these days directs traffic to the 154 as opposed to the 101. With the overpopulation of CA (and the world for that matter) there is just too many cars, not to mention drivers who have no experience driving on this highway. I'm all for making it a toll road. People who can prove residency get a free pass.

a-1572121471 Oct 26, 2019 01:24 PM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

Toll .... maybe not. Heavy fine for speed violators. The key is to change the driving behavior. If $500 per serious violations doesn't do it, double that for the next offense, the tripe ... until the behavior change or license suspended. Toll isn't going to do that.

SBNatural Oct 26, 2019 09:53 AM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

What a shame. No excuse for this sort of tragedy.
I'm not so sure lowering the speed limit is the solution. Frustrated drivers are OBVIOUSLY on part of the problem, and you often see erratic behavior when SY Valley visitors are trolling along at 40 mph. The speed of 55 is not a problem for those that can manage it. And a few other things contribute: 1) large tractor-trailer rigs that cannot pull the 154 grade and struggle with the windy road, without running 25 mph - rigs should be banned unless there is a Paradise Road or similar destination; 2) The Chumash should actively campaign in the media and at its casino with its visitors to use the 101/ 246 enter/exit routes - reducing the number of folks who travel this daunting road and are unfamiliar; 3) median barriers should be installed immediately in those areas where passing lanes choke back down to one, reducing the likelihood of hasty, last-minute passes; 4) And lastly, let's not just focus on speeding, the CHP should up the ante on ticketing those who have 5 or more trailing vehicles, at times we see as many as 30 vehicles behind - and with the ticket for not pulling over, they should kindly advise the drivers that there are alternate routes to the valley and if you cannot abide and pull over, use a freeway.
I'm sure there will be those that yell and scream about requiring slow drivers to pull over. But the impulsive passing that is most often seen on the pass occurs when there are folks that just don't belong on that road and they also make no effort to get out of the way when the opportunity presents.

It's not all about speeding, in many cases it's about frustrating behavior of drivers. I have yet to see the CHP ever light up a slow driver who has been blocking traffic - tickets for speeding yes, plenty of those but for obstructing traffic - never.

Let's work all ends of this problem.

CatPower Oct 26, 2019 09:40 AM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

Let me start by saying this accident is a horrible tragedy. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those involved. This particular accident is especially bizarre in that that section is a huge straightaway where you can clearly see oncoming traffic for quite a distance. What this guy was thinking going over the double yellow is beyond comprehension. We can only speculate at this point. I drive the pass almost daily, and yes it scares me at times. I've had a few close calls myself. There's a lot of talk about reducing the speed limit to 45, or putting in median barriers. Well, while that may reduce the severity of crashes it doesn't address the root cause of accidents. I would say 99% of accidents are caused by driver error. Whether that be driving distracted, impaired, tired, or excessively aggressively(the others caused by unexpected mechanical failures like a tire blowout). 154 should not be that dangerous of a road. Anybody who's ever driven in the SoCal mountain ranges, Sierras or Rocky mountains knows that there are tons of highways, just as well traveled as the 154 that are far steeper, narrower, windier, with more severe drop offs and no guard rails, and subject to more severe whether. And often times the speed limit on these roads is 55. A quick search will also show that Hwy 154 is not even in the top 20 deadliest highways in California. In fact most of the deadliest stretches of highway are busy freeways in LA and the Bay Area and big flat stretches of remote highway out in the desert. It's not speed or the road that causes the accidents, it's the drivers. The best way to prevent these types of accidents is better driver training and more severe penalties to those who choose to drive distracted, impaired, or make dumb decisions like passing over a double yellow line. Finally, reducing the speed to 45 could promote impatient drivers to develop road range and attempt bonehead maneuvers like this one to get around the slower drivers. Attempting to get 154 off of GPS routes is a great idea. Putting large signs at the 101/154 intersections that 154 is not recommended for through traffic and vehicles towing trailers would also help. If you are concerned about the safety of Hwy 154 beyond that, don't drive on the road. Unfortunately, no matter where you go there will always be accidents and people making poor decisions. You take a risk every time you get into an automobile. End Rant.

a-1572108830 Oct 26, 2019 09:53 AM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

Probably true. Idiot reckless drivers are most to blame. Definitely high-tech cameras at critical areas along 154. Double the fines for speeders and violators. Triple and quadruple that for repeat offenders in that area. This will make people think hard ahead before being stupid.

Flicka Oct 26, 2019 09:26 AM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

One thing that might help is to have the GPS (is that right?) giving directions to take 154 quit doing that. Also, the signs recommended here for stating how many deaths occur on 154 might help divert drivers to skip this for the 101. Scary how many accidents happen. This one is especially horrendous. If the one who caused it survives he should go to prison for murder.

kxcamera Oct 26, 2019 09:13 AM
Triple Fatal Highway 154 Collision Sparks Fire, Shuts Down Roadway

It takes many factors, not any one you can get wrong while driving. Let me guess - a high powered car (400-800hp these days), young male, big fan of the "fast and the furious" movies, takes the 154 as a "challenge", mis-judges distances of oncoming traffic and walls. Attitude- they did it in the movies, speed limits are "just suggestions". Anyway, here comes self-driving cars, so that should solve everything...


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