Morning results in traffic mayhem throughout Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA — Three widely disparate Santa Barbara neighborhoods were the scenes of separate and remarkably bizarre traffic accidents on busy city streets Wednesday morning.

At 6:53 a.m., a fully-loaded double-trailer gravel truck driven by Joaquin Garcia Morales, 51, of Oxnard “lost braking power” on a steep downhill descent northbound on Highway 154, according to CHP spokesman Jeremy Wayland. The vehicle careened through two major urban intersections, rolled at 45 mpg through a motel parking lot, plowed through three parked cars, and then crashed headlong into a single-story cottage home adjacent to the motel, killing the three people inside.

“Witnesses describe billowing smoke coming from the truck wheels,” Wayland told reporters in a press conference on the scene that afternoon, further indicating that the victims were found deceased upon the arrival of Santa Barbara County fire personnel. The victims were Leon Leonel, Lorena Pacheco, and their 8-year-old son Jaciel.

Morales suffered facial lacerations, and is the ongoing subject of investigation. “He has a history of multiple vehicle violations,” Wayland said, “and we will determine the nature of these brake problems.”

Approximately two hours later, The Old Navy Store in downtown Santa Barbara became the scene of another violent vehicle accident as a van heading down heavily-traveled State Street left the roadway and careened across the sidewalk, seriously injuring a 69-year-old pedestrian.

The pedestrian “was using a walker and had no chance to avoid the impact,” said Santa Barbara police Lt. Paul McCaffrey.

McCaffrey described the driver of the vehicle as “a 90-year-old man who ran the red light,” then crashed into a second cross-traffic vehicle before jumping the curb and striking the female pedestrian. When the van came to a rest with the hapless pedestrian under the front bumper, “the victim was conscious with undetermined injuries,” the police spokesman added.

The driver was taken into custody for evaluation as the downtown Santa Barbara business district was shut down to remove the vehicle from the storefront sidewalk.

Not more than an hour later, just a mile away on Santa Barbara’s busy Cabrillo Boulevard paralleling the sands of East Beach, a Cadillac Escalade traveling eastbound in normal morning traffic flow drifted out of its lane. The SUV smashed into a parked Mercedes, then careened headlong into the rear of a parked Jeep Cherokee in which two men were, according to McCaffrey, “making a surf change” into beach apparel as they prepared to go surfing.

McCaffrey said the impacted Jeep was slammed into a parked Volkswagen, which then slammed into a parked Honda. At that point, the Jeep jackknifed onto the sidewalk while the Escalade caromed back into traffic lanes and flipped onto its rooftop.

“At least three of the vehicles are totaled,” McCaffrey wrote his media report, indicating that the driver of the Escalade and the two men in the Jeep were transported to Cottage Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

While the accident appears to have been caused by the driver of the Escalade falling asleep with no indications that alcohol was involved, McCaffrey commented summed up the activity.

“It’s been a difficult day,” he said.

Morning results in traffic mayhem throughout Santa Barbara was last modified: July 17th, 2012 by admin
Categories: Santa Barbara

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