Foxen Canyon Road is one of the more bucolic, scenic roads in Santa Barbara County. But in the afternoon hours of August 8th, just north of Los Olivos, a quiet community reminiscent of “Mayberry”, a violent accident involving the collision of a 2000 GMC Safari van with a large oak tree occurred in the 9600 block of that road.
According to Paul Christensen, Santa Barbara County Fire spokesman, multiple emergency units responded to the 3:55 p.m. 911 Emergency call, including multiple fire engine crews, a trio of ambulances, and two helicopters. First responders discovered seven people “were in a van that struck a tree,” Christensen reported to the media, “and one was declared dead at the scene.”
The decedent, reported by California Highway Patrol spokesman Julio Rubio, was Benito Lopez Salazar, 30, a resident of Santa Maria. He is reported to have suffered multiple blunt force trauma injuries and was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision. All other passengers were reported to have been wearing seatbelts.
Surviving passengers in the van were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and to Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria with moderate-to-major injuries, according to Christensen.
The driver of the van, Mario Lopez Vasquez was taken to the hospital with lacerations. While undergoing treatment, he was determined to be a non-U.S. citizen and was driving without a California operator’s license, and was arrested for vehicular manslaughter. He was transported to Santa Barbara County North Jail in Santa Maria where he remains held without bail.
Photo: courtesy www.kcoy.com
Santa Maria Times: Man Arrested Fatal Collision