A Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Custody Lieutenant accused of driving drunk and causing an injury traffic collision pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
Javier Jonathan Antunez, 44, appeared for arraignment before Judge Gustavo Lavayen in Santa Maria Superior Court.
Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Kline said Mr. Antunez’s next court appearance is Jan. 9, 2020.
On Oct. 2 Mr. Antunez was charged with driving under the influence causing injury and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher causing injury with a “habitual criminal,” enhancement.
According to a Sheriff’s Office report, on the evening of Sept. 14, Mr. Antunez was arrested on suspicion of driving his 2008 BMW under the influence of alcohol and causing injury.
At around 7:12 p.m. the California Highway Patrol Buellton office received a call of a multi-vehicle traffic crash with injuries on Highway 154 just east of the Lake Cachuma entrance, according to a CHP news release.
Officers found a three-car crash in which two vehicles struck each other head-on in the eastbound lanes. Officers determined Mr. Antunez was driving eastbound and a 2009 Toyota Tacoma driven by Enrique Calderon-Mendez, 43, of Santa Barbara was traveling westbound.
A 2017 Jeep driven by a 28-year-old woman was unable to avoid the wreckage and struck the rear end of one of the vehicles.
Mr. Antunez and his passenger, 45-year-old Esther Trejo, suffered major injuries and were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital by ambulance.
Mr. Calderon-Mendez suffered minor injuries, but one of his passengers, 43-year-old Judith Hall of Santa Barbara, suffered major injuries and was airlifted to Cottage Hospital. His other passengers, 60-year-old Dolores Gutierrez and 48-year-old Evelia Dominguez, suffered moderate injuries and were taken to Cottage Hospital by ambulance.