Two Firefighters and Six Others Injured in Roadside Collision, Highway 101 Shut Down

Update by the edhat staff
3:30 p.m., March 29, 2023

California Highway Patrol (CHP) has released its preliminary report of the multi-injury traffic collision in Gaviota Wednesday morning.

At 5:40 a.m., CHP officers and Santa Barbara County firefighters responded to a solo vehicle rollover collision on Highway 101 southbound, just north of the Highway 1 intersection.

At the same time, a 2016 Nissan Quest minivan with four occupants was traveling southbound on Highway 101 in the number two lane at an unsafe speed and lost control of the vehicle, the CHP report states.

The minivan traveled across lanes and in an attempt to regain control of the vehicle, the driver turned the steering wheel to the right causing the vehicle to travel out of control while rotating clockwise. The vehicle then traveled back across the lanes onto the right shoulder where CHP and Fire Personnel were attending to the driver of the original crash.

Emergency responders noticed the van was out of control and attempted to move out of the way. The two county firefighters were unable to avoid the vehicle and were struck by the minivan as it continued onto the dirt shoulder of the highway and overturned. The CHP officer sustained minor injuries while diving out of the way.

Both firefighters were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with moderate injuries, one was airlifted. All passengers in the minivan were transported to Marian Regional Medical Center with minor injuries and the CHP officer was transported to Santa Ynez Cottage Hospital.

CHP investigators arrived at the scene shortly after the collision and requested Caltrans to shut down Highway 101 southbound. The lanes were reopened around 12:30 p.m.

The initial CHP report can be found at the bottom of the article.

Update by the edhat staff
12:30 p.m., March 29, 2023

As of 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Caltrans announced the southbound lanes of Highway 101 reopened at Avenue of the Flags in Buellton.

By the edhat staff
7:20 a.m., March 29, 2023

Two firefighters and six motorists were injured in a roadside collision early Wednesday morning, Highway 101 is closed in both directions at the Gaviota Tunnel.

At 5:22 a.m., the Santa Barbara County Fire Department responded to Highway 101 south at the Highway 1 interchange in Gaviota.

Crews discovered that two firefightters were struck by a minivan while tending to a minor injury vehicle accident.

There are a total of eight patients on the scene. Two firefighters with major injuries and one patient with minor-to-moderate injuries were taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital by Calstar helicopter. Five patients with minor injuries were transported to Marian Regional Medical Center.

“Both firefighters (Captain and Engineer) are awake and talking at [Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. We appreciated the excellent Doctors and Nurses tending to our brothers,” said Captain Scott Safechuck.

Highway 101 south was closed at the base of the Nojoque Grade and northbound lanes closed just north of Mariposa Reina to assist a helicopter landing.

Just before 7:00 a.m., the northbound lanes were reopened. 

Caltrans reports a hard closure is in place for southbound Highway 101 at Avenue of the Flags in Buellton. An additional closure is in place on southbound lanes roughly 3.5 miles south of Ave. of the Flags.

Motorists are detoured to Highway 154. Caltrans reports one southbound lane of Highway 101 is expected to open before noon. 

This is a developing story.

Photo: SBCFD

[Ed note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated there were five motorists injured when there were actually 6.]

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. One of the most dangerous calls first responders go to are vehicle accidents; especially where there are higher speeds of passing vehicles. Please give CHP, Firefighters and Ambulance personnel the room to operate by moving over and slowing down… even if the lane is open.
    This accident will no doubt be investigated and new protocals may be established by forcing CHP to close a lane when there is an accident on the shoulder.
    Hoping the CHP and Firefighters fully recover and are able to get back on the job.

  2. I vaguely recall a fire fighter actually getting arrested for blocking the freeway during an accident by a Officer. I think it’s a very good call to block not only did car speed by them but everybody’s still interested in seeing what’s happening that they tend to cause other accidents. I wish all the best recovery.

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