Driver arrested after traffic fatality
SANTA BARBARA — A driver was arrested and charged with felony vehicular manslaughter after a head-on collision Sunday evening.
Around 8:20 p.m., the Santa Barbara Police Department Combined Communications Center received multiple reports of the collision on West Carrillo Street and Miramonte Drive.
Officers, firefighters and paramedics responded to the calls and found two drivers, the only two occupants, with extensive injuries. The Santa Barbara City Fire Department extricated both drivers, and both were transported by ambulance to the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital emergency room.
According to a news release from the Santa Barbara Police Department, a red Nissan sedan, driven by Jose Fermin Lopez Jr., a 24-year-old Santa Barbara resident, was traveling at a high rate of speed west on West Carrillo Street without the headlights on.
The Police Department believes Mr. Lopez’s vehicle drifted into the lane of oncoming traffic.
Mr. Lopez’s vehicle and a Mercedes sedan, being driven east on West Carrillo Street, collided.
The driver of the Mercedes succumbed to injuries sustained in the collision and was pronounced dead several hours after the accident.
After officers believed Mr. Lopez was allegedly under the influence of alcohol, they completed a DUI investigation. Search and arrest warrants were later approved by a Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge, and Mr. Lopez was arrested, and is suspected of being at fault for the collision, Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale, the police department’s public information officer, said in the news release.
Mr. Lopez is being charged with felony DUI causing death and felony vehicular manslaughter, and he will be booked in Santa Barbara County Jail once released from the hospital, Sgt. Ragsdale said.
The case is under investigation with the help of the Critical Accident Reconstruction Team. The name of the decedent is being withheld pending notification of the family.
— Forrest McFarland