Two Goleta residents died early Sunday when their car was struck by a vehicle traveling the wrong way on Highway 101 south of Storke Road, authorities said. The alleged driver of the wrong-way vehicle was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
California Highway Patrol Sgt. Matt Dawson said an off-duty Santa Barbara County sheriff’s sergeant encountered a vehicle driving north in the southbound lanes near Fairview Avenue about 1:17 a.m. She swerved to avoid a collision and called dispatch, which notified other sheriff’s personnel and the CHP.
According to Dawson, less than two minutes later a sheriff’s deputy near the southbound Storke onramp observed the wrong-way vehicle approaching but there were two cars ahead of him. The driver of the first car saw the deputy’s emergency lights behind him and swerved right, narrowly avoiding the oncoming car. The second car did not swerve, however, and the deputy saw the wrong-way vehicle collide head on with it.
The crash spun the wrong-way vehicle, a Mistubishi Montero, into the center divider, trapping the driver. The impact also trapped the four occupants of the other car, a Honda Accord.
The front passenger of the Accord, Macrina M. Ocampo, 58, of Goleta, was pronounced dead at the scene by county firefighters. The Accord’s driver, Marcos A. Arredondo, 18, of Goleta, and the other two passengers were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where Arredondo died. The two passengers, both teenage girls, are hospitalized with severe injuries, including head trauma. All four were wearing seat belts, Dawson said.
The driver of the other vehicle, Richard L. Rodriguez, 20, of Tustin, was transported to Cottage Hospital but his injuries do not appear to be life-threatening. Dawson said officers arrested Rodriguez on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and negligent vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. He will be booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail once he has been medically cleared, Dawson said.
Dawson said Arredondo and the uninvolved car that swerved out of the way were traveling together, returning to Goleta from Lompoc. The parents of Arredondo, a 2009 graduate of San Marcos High School, and his backseat passengers were traveling in the first car.