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Local News

Santa Barbara Woman Arrested in Fatal Highway 154 Crash

One driver is dead and three others injured in the multiple-car collision; CHP says alcohol appears to be a factor

One person died, three were injured and Highway 154 eastbound in Santa Barbara was shut down for several hours Wednesday night after a multiple-vehicle crash.

According to the California Highway Patrol, a witness watched the driver of a 1996 Nissan Pathfinder, who was traveling westbound toward Lake Cachuma in the area just west of Cold Spring Canyon Bridge, slow down and make a U-turn. It then headed eastbound toward Santa Barbara, and the witness noticed the driver driving erratically and appeared to be crossing the double yellow lines.

Preparing to call 9-1-1, the witness lost sight of the Pathfinder as it ascended the hill between Stagecoach and East Camino Cielo roads. The Pathfinder then collided into the left side of a 2006 Pontiac G6. Both vehicles spun out of control, across traffic lanes and into the path of three other vehicles traveling westbound.

Two of the vehicles traveling westbound, a 1989 Saab 900 Turbo and a 2005 Toyota Prius, struck the Pathfinder, which went off the roadway and hit a tree. The third westbound vehicle, a 2007 BMW 328i, also struck the Pontiac.

The driver of the Saab, a 73-year-old Solvang woman, died at the scene. Her identify is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The driver of the Pathfinder, 54-year-old Priscilla Susman of Santa Barbara, was admitted into Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with chest trauma. She was arrested after a preliminary investigation revealed her vehicle crossed onto the wrong side of the roadway and struck the Saab, causing fatal injuries to the driver. The CHP says it appears alcohol may have played a role in the collision.

The driver of the Prius — 53-year-old Linda Gaytan of Santa Ynez — and the driver of the BMW — 55-year-old Jay Fortman of Santa Barbara — were both admitted to Cottage Hospital for treatment of blunt force trauma. Syrena Hernandez, 24, of Oxnard, the driver of the Pontiac, was not injured.

Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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