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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.

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