Law enforcement officials said Tuesday that a motorist who was trapped in his vehicle for more than 15 hours after a crash Monday night may have been impaired by prescription drugs at the time.
Officer James Richards of the California Highway Patrol said Michael Crolius of Solvang was driving his Toyota Prius westbound on Highway 154, allegedly at a high rate of speed, when he failed to negotiate a sharp curve in the roadway and collided with a descending embankment.
The incident occurred around 4 p.m., and Richards said Crollius contacted family members from his cell phone for help but asked that law enforcement not be contacted.
His family contacted CHP despite the man’s objections, and reported the collision at 5 p.m. Officers from the Santa Barbara and Buellton areas responded to search the area, along with Santa Barbara County Fire crews and air support.
Crews were unable to locate him though they searched Highway 154 from Buellton to State Street, and Richards said at one point that his family had been on the road directly next to the scene, but was unable to see his car because of the darkness.
Crolius was finally found around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, when a CHP officer spotted the overturned vehicle. Crolius had been unable to exit the vehicle because of an injury to his shoulder.
Santa Barbara County firefighters were able to extricate the man from the wreckage after about 20 minutes. Crolius was taken via ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was being treated for moderate injuries.
Richards said prescription drug impairment is being investigated as the possible primary cause of the collision. If convicted, this would be Crolius’ fourth DUI in three years.