Carpinteria – Okay, we all know the traffic sucks. We know that U.S. 101 passing through southern Santa Barbara County is in desperate need of widening and maintenance. We also know that possession of a driver’s license is no guarantee of even a minimal IQ score.
But what we don’t know is just how unpredictable some of our fellow IQ-challenged motorists on the road can be. That reality was made manifest just after the noon hour of March 4th when, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Jonathan Gutierrez, a conflict between drivers in moving vehicles broke out pursuant to a tailgating episode in southbound lanes running through the community of Montecito.
As a pickup truck driven by Ryan Luna, 25, pulled up behind another pickup truck driven by Joseph Antonucci, 56, and Antonucci failed to change lanes to allow Luna to pass, Luna eventually pulled alongside the older man and engaged him in a verbal exchange.
According to Gutierrez, “what began as verbal banter between the two escalated as the vehicles neared Santa Claus Lane” to the point that Luna “threw a super-sized soda into the passenger window of the other truck”. Antonucci was struck in the face by the flying soda cup, with its contents splashing throughout his truck cab.
It was at that point that Anatonucci—perhaps not liking the flavor of the hurled beverage—summarily swerved violently to the right, crashing into Luna’s truck. Antonucci then continued on his way while Luna was forced to exit at Carpinteria Avenue’s offramp.
As luck so often has it in such unpredictable moments, both vehicles were being followed at the time of the incident by an unmarked CHP patrol car driven by CHP Coastal Division Chief Reggie Chappelle, who immediately interpreted the situation as one in violation of any number of motor vehicle and criminal codes, and pulled Antonucci’s truck over in a red-lights-and-sirens traffic stop.
Pursuant to an investigation conducted at the scene, both drivers were taken into custody and arrested. Antonucci was charged with vehicular assault with a deadly weapon and transported to Ventura County Jail with his bail set at $30,000, while Luna was charged with battery and a raft of vehicle code violations, with his bail set at $5,000.
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