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10 Hurt in Four-Vehicle Accident on Highway 246 West of Buellton

Officials say a suspected DUI driver crossed lanes and collided with a truck, and one person was hit while attempting to direct traffic

Emergency crews respond to the scene of a multi-vehicle accident Tuesday morning on Highway 246 west of Buellton that sent 10 people to area hospitals with injuries.

Emergency crews respond to the scene of a multi-vehicle accident Tuesday morning on Highway 246 west of Buellton that sent 10 people to area hospitals with injuries.  (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff | updated logo |

Ten people were injured Tuesday morning in a four-vehicle accident on Highway 246 west of Buellton, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Officers responded about 6 a.m. to Highway 246 one mile east of Tularosa Road, between Lompoc and Buellton, CHP officer John Ortega said.

According to CHP, 18-year-old Gerardo Torres Jr. of Lompoc was allegedly driving drunk and traveling westbound approaching Tularosa Road when his Honda Civic crossed into the eastbound lane. Torres collided with an eastbound pickup truck driven by 37-year-old Romualdo Jacinto of Lompoc, which overturned onto its roof.

Torres, who was allegedly intoxicated as he traveled from the Chumash Casino Resort, sustained a fractured femur and was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, Ortega said.

Jacinto sustained moderate injuries and was taken to Cottage Hospital. Two of his four passengers were injured.

Before CHP arrived, 60-year-old Thomas Meade of Buellton was subsequently struck by another vehicle after he began directing traffic and assisting others involved in the collision. Meade sustained major injuries and was transported to Cottage Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Four others were taken to Lompoc Valley Medical Center with moderate or minor injuries.

Those moderately injured include Julio Damacio, 18, of Lompoc, and 22-year-old Juan Lopez of Lompoc. Gerardo Lopez, 16, and Angel Mendoza, 23, both of Lompoc, had minor injuries.

Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. David Sadecki said 10 people were treated at the scene. Of those, two patients sustained serious injuries, four suffered moderate injuries and four sustained minor injuries. He said it took firefighters 30 minutes to extricate one person from one of the vehicles.

Ortega said Torres faces charges of felony DUI, failure to maintain lane position and being an unlicensed driver when he is released from the hospital.

The Lompoc Fire Department, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and four ambulances from American Medical Response also responded to the scene.

Highway 246 has reopened but was closed for several hours to through traffic, with officers diverting travelers onto a dirt field around the collision scene.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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» on 12.05.12 @ 02:24 PM

Drunk, underage, and unlicensed.  I’d suspect he didn’t have insurance, either, but the article doesn’t mention it.

So riddle me this:  how, exactly, did he manage to get booze at the Casino?  They don’t sell it on the floor, and the restaurants ID pretty heavily.

Hope they throw the book at this idiot.

» on 12.05.12 @ 02:43 PM

I don’t recall an incident anywhere like this that involved the use of marijuana. It just annoys me.

Why doesn’t the sheriff send 25 agents to the Casino and shut it down taking the millions of dollars in cash and millions in booze?

Oh, yes - I forgot. Because it is legal to sell the drug (or allow it to be used on premises), alcohol - even to minors.

I wonder how close the Casino is to schools?

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