Santa Barbara County – State Route 154, known in the area as San Marcos Pass Road, runs from Santa Barbara through the Santa Ynez Valley to Los Olivos before re-connecting with U.S. 101. An early California stagecoach route, the 32-mile-long road is a heavily-traveled scenic alternative to the primary north-south freeway running along the coast. As a mountainous, serpentine two-lane highway, the “154” is notoriously known as “blood alley”, and is one of the nation’s deadliest thoroughfares. In just the past five years, there have been in excess of 18 fatalities on the road, including a pair of CHP motor officers.
The night of December 21st seems to have been a bit of an exception only in that the two people killed close to the midnight hour were not driving a vehicle; rather, they were pedestrians merely crossing the highway near the southern end of the Santa Ynez Valley at Paradise Road in proximity to Rancho San Marcos Golf Course and Live Oak Camp, according to Coastal Division CHP spokesman Officer Larry Hockman.
The pedestrians were apparently in the right-of-way, as “three vehicles struck the pair as they walked on the roadway,” Hockman reported. One of the vehicles fled the scene, while the other two, driven by Karen Gong, 45, and Maria Guadalupe, 41, stopped immediately and reported the accident to 911 Emergency.
While emergency personnel responded and investigated the incident, all traffic on the highway was brought to a halt.
Pursuant to witness reports and a description of the third vehicle, the investigation led CHP officers to the parking area at the nearby Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez. “Contact was made with the driver inside the casino,” Hockman reported. Martin Macarena, 48, was arrested “playing bingo”, according to Hockman, and charged with felony hit and run causing injuries. Macarena was subsequently booked into Santa Barbara County Jail where he remains in custody pending bail determination.
Photos: Courtesy Caltrans, KCOY-TV
KSBY: Two Women Dead After Mulitple Vehicles Hit Them on 154
Santa Barbara Independent: Gratuitous Gore on Highway 154