Photo: Image of damaged vehicle | Montecito Fire Department
As if the traffic on U.S. 101 through Santa Barbara wasn’t difficult enough for drivers to navigate during the prolonged reconstruction and widening of the freeway through the communities of Carpinteria and Montecito, the specter of inebriated motorists looms large for all who travel that route.
Evidence of that came once again on the morning of August 13th, when a two-vehicle collision between a Toyota Camry and a Mercury SUV sent the SUV careening off the roadway and tumbling down a steep embankment. According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Office Raquel Zick, “an elderly female” driver of the SUV was transported to Cottage Hospital with “traumatic head and internal injuries” while her male passenger, 77-year-old Santa Paula resident Louis Hernandez, succumbed to his injuries at the scene.
The driver of the Camry, identified by CHP investigators as 22-year-old Port Hueneme resident Ricki Newton, suffered minor injuries along with her “two female passengers.” Newton, obviously under the influence, was arrested at the scene. Following her release from medical care on August 16th, she arrested and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail where she was booked on a charge of felony DUI with injuries and felony vehicular manslaughter.