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7 Vehicles Involved in Highway 101 Crash; 3 Passengers Injured

At 3:10 p.m. Monday, Santa Barbara California Highway Patrol, city Fire and AMR ambulance personnel received a call of a traffic collision on southbound Highway 101, north of Milpas Street, with a big rig “jackknifed” and blocking all lanes of southbound traffic.

Seven vehicles were involved on the southbound and northbound lanes of Highway 101, with the southbound lanes blocked by the big rig, oil in the roadway, minor and major injuries to some of the involved parties.

Christian Vasconcelos, 25, of Pico Rivera was driving his 2001 Freightliner tractor-trailer southbound on Highway 101, in the No. 2 lane north of Milpas Street, when he lost control of his vehicle. The Freightliner struck three other southbound vehicles: a 2005 Mercedes CLK 320 driven by Jane Stiller, 62, of Carpinteria; a 2004 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Paul Valdez, 48, of Newbury Park; and a 2006 Mercedes 500CLK, driven by Robert Ornstein, 66, of Santa Barbara.

The tractor-trailer then slammed into the concrete center divider wall, coming to rest jackknifed across all lanes of traffic with oil in the roadway. The impact of the Freightliner against the divider sent vehicle debris into the northbound lanes of Highway 101, where it was struck by three other vehicles: a 2003 Ford Focus driven by Lillian Murphy, 18, of Santa Barbara; a 1995 Dodge Ram driven by Leonel Escamilla, 32, of Placentia; and a 2007 BMW 328i driven by Viviana Pouget, 50, of Santa Barbara.

Oswald Gonzalez, 36, of Corona (passenger in Escamilla’s Dodge Ram) was transported and admitted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with major injuries to his facial area. Debris from the Freightliner went through the wind shield of the Dodge, striking him in the face.

James Henderson, 46, of Thousand Oaks (passenger in one of the southbound vehicles), and Paul Valdez, 48, of Newbury Park (passenger in Valdez’s Chevy truck) were also both transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, treated and released with minor injuries/complaint of pain.

Traffic on both sides of Highway 101 were affected, with the southbound lanes being closed for about three hours for patient care, vehicle removal, scene investigation and cleanup of the oil off the roadway by Cal Trans. Traffic was routed off and back on the freeway using surface streets. The collision is still under investigation.

Alcohol was not believed to be a factor in the collision.

Daniel Barba is a public affairs officer for the California Highway Patrol, Santa Barbara area.

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