Sunday, June 17 , 2018, 6:13 pm | Mostly Cloudy 64º


Local News

Driver Facing Manslaughter Charge in Fatal Wreck

Mario Lopez Vasquez, 28, was arrested Thursday after accident that killed one person and injured six others

A 28-year-old Santa Maria man is facing manslaughter charges stemming from a single-vehicle accident this week that killed one person and sent six others to the hospital, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Mario Lopez Vasquez was driving a 2000 GMC Safari van on Foxen Canyon Road shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday when he lost control and slammed head-on into an oak tree, the CHP said.

Vasquez, a non-U.S. citizen who does not have a driver’s license, was traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of the wreck, the CHP said.

He was treated for minor injuries at Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria before being arrested and booked in the Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, the CHP said. He also was cited for allegedly driving without a license.

Benito Lopez Salazar, 30, of Santa Maria, who was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, suffered multiple blunt-force trauma, and was declared dead at the scene, the CHP said.

Four other passengers — Jaimie Lopez Sanchez, 20; Rigoberto Hernandez, 23; Rigoberto Salazar, 26; and Manuel Villavicencio, 18, all of Santa Maria — suffered major injuries in the wreck, the CHP said.

Raul Lopez Sanchez, 30, of Santa Maria, suffered minor injuries, the CHP said.

Two of the passengers were airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and the others were taken by ambulance to Marian, the CHP said.

The incident remained under investigation, the CHP said.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >