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Bill Macfadyen: Flurry of Collisions Gives Road Worriers Pause in Santa Barbara County

3 fatalities and 5 major wrecks crash NoozWeek’s Top 5, which also says goodbye to Dr. Erno Daniel and sports a bikini line

There were 95,659 people who read Noozhawk this past week. As you’re about to see, things were pretty much a wreck around Santa Barbara County, or multiple wrecks. Five major crashes to be exact.

So, provided that my column is cool with the commissars at the Federal Communications Commission, AKA the government Министерство информации и печати, and their clandestine new “General Conduct” rules regulating what I can write on the Internet and what you can read, here’s my take on your top stories:

1. 13 People Injured in Collision of Passenger Van, Car on Highway 154 in Los Olivos

A Cadillac CTS collided head-on with a GMC passenger van on Highway 154 near Los Olivos the night of Feb. 21, leaving 13 people with a range of injuries. The 25-year-old Cadillac driver died of his two days later.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the Cadillac was traveling east at about 65 mph just before 10 p.m. when the driver turned left at Roblar Avenue — right into the path of the westbound van.

The vans’s driver — Blue Dascomb, 21, of Santa Ynez — braked and swerved but was unable to avoid a collision, the CHP said. The van veered off the roadway and overturned.

Authorities said the Cadillac’s driver — Austin Troy Bartoo, 25, of Santa Ynez — was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered major injuries in the collision.

Bartoo was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, as were six others from the van.

Six more were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

CHP Sgt. Don Clotworthy told our Tom Bolton that Bartoo was driving while intoxicated at the time of the crash. He declined to reveal Bartoo’s blood-alcohol level, pending completion of the crash investigation, but noted it was above the 0.08-percent limit at which a driver is presumed drunk under California law.

“The cause of the accident is going to be driving under the influence of alcohol,” he said. “It’s sad, and it points out once again the danger of drinking and driving.”

Clotworthy said Bartoo was declared dead Feb. 23 and his organs were harvested for transplant.

You’d best use caution when driving through the intersection of Highway 154 and Roblar Avenue in Los Olivos these days. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
You’d best use caution when driving through the intersection of Highway 154 and Roblar Avenue in Los Olivos these days. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

2. Major Injuries Reported in Head-On Crash on Highway 154 Near Los Olivos

Less than two days after the previously mentioned head-on collision in Los Olivos, a second occurred at the same intersection of Highway 154 and Roblar Avenue. Three people were seriously injured in that wreck, which was reported at 5:15 p.m. Feb. 23.

CalStar helicopter transported one victim to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. David Sadecki.

The other two victims were taken to the hospital by an American Medical Response ambulance.

Sadecki said one person was trapped in the wreckage and had to be extricated.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, and the CHP has not released additional details.

3. 2 Dead, Several Injured in Multiple Highway 101 Crashes

Two people were killed on Highway 101 the night of Feb. 22 in three separate crashes — two of which occurred within 40 minutes of each other.

According to authorities, a GMC pickup truck traveling north plunged into the creekbed between the northbound and southbound lanes near the Gaviota tunnel around 8 p.m. It took rescue personnel about 90 minutes to locate the vehicle in the rain and amid thick vegetation.

A passenger — a 64-year-old Lompoc woman — was declared dead at the scene, the CHP said. The driver, Mario Orellana, 52, of Lompoc, suffered moderate injuries, and was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The CHP blamed the wreck on excessive speed and slick pavement.

Just south of Orcutt about 8:40 p.m., a northbound Chevy SUV hurtled off the roadway near the top of the Solomon Grade, rolling over for about 100 feet.

Lindsey Marie Swallom, 32, of Santa Maria, died after being ejected from the vehicle, according to the CHP. She was not wearing a seatbelt, authorities said.

The driver — Raymond A. Fear II, 41, of Santa Maria — was transported to Marian Regional Medical Center with a broken clavicle and other injuries.

The CHP said Fear later was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. He was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail.

Meanwhile, three people suffered minor to moderate injuries earlier in the evening in a crash on southbound Highway 101 near the Highway 1 exit, north of the Gaviota tunnel.

All of the crashes are under investigation by the CHP. Light rain was falling throughout the region at the time of the incidents.

4. Renowned Santa Barbara Dr. Erno Daniel Dies at 68

Dr. Erno Daniel, a beloved, longtime Sansum Clinic physician specializing in internal medicine and geriatrics, died unexpectedly at his Santa Barbara home on Feb. 21. He was 68.

Dr. Erno Daniel would always see you now. (Daniel family photo)
Dr. Erno Daniel would always see you now. (Daniel family photo)

The son of professional musicians, Daniel was born in Hungary in 1946 and survived the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, which was ruthlessly crushed by Soviet troops in one of the darkest chapters of the Cold War.

He immigrated to the United States in 1960 and became an extraordinarily proud U.S. citizen in 1964. That same year, he graduated from Santa Barbara High School, then earned a chemistry degree from Caltech, a master’s and a Ph.D. from UC San Diego, and attended UCLA Medical School.

After graduating from UCLA, he joined Sansum and the rest, as they say, is history. In fact, Daniel had a particular fondness for Sansum and its history, and last year he completed Noticias: The Legacy of Sansum Clinic, a book he wrote in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Daniel took an active interest in research into Alzheimer’s disease and received national acclaim for a book he wrote called Stealth Germs in Your Body. In his 35-year career, he went above and beyond providing TLC to thousands of patients, many of them multiple generations of families.

Daniel is survived by his wife of 38 years, Martha; their children, Kristina, Michael, Mary and Monica; and a half-dozen grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 28 at our Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 1300 East Valley Road in Montecito. A celebration of his life will follow at The Fess Parker, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara.

Memorial donations may be made in his name to Sansum Clinic. Click here to make an online donation.

R.I.P.

Sew what? For Danielle Rocha, it’s only swimwear. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Sew what? For Danielle Rocha, it’s only swimwear. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

5. Dos Pueblos High Grad Danielle Rocha Launches Her Own Bikini Line

Danielle Rocha is my kind of girl. And it’s not because the young entrepreneur has her own bikini company.

It’s actually because she has her own company.

Rocha, a 20-year-old alumna of Dos Pueblos High School, founded Rocha Swim last year after attending De Marcos Fashion Academy, which is run by my old friend, Jodi De Marcos.

A girl in a bikini ... because. (Rocha Swim photo)
A girl in a bikini ... because. (Rocha Swim photo)

She told our Gina Potthoff that her love of fashion and her favorite pastime of hanging out at the beach gave her the inspiration to start the company, which sells handmade Brazilian-inspired swimwear, mostly through an online store.

Rocha’s dad provided some seed funding, which enabled her to buy a couple of nicer sewing machines. A three-month Women’s Economic Ventures course helped her learn the business side.

Her swimsuits — tops, bottoms and one pieces — sell for $60 to $70 apiece. She launched her first line late last spring and a second line made its debut in January, with some styles already nearly sold out.

Although her online store isn’t the easiest to navigate (Don’t judge me; I was asked to do it by a friend), Rocha has hopes of winning a capital infusion from a FedEx small-business grant contest. Ten of the competition’s entrants will be awarded grand prizes of $25,000 each.

Rocha is up against 1,500 other businesses from around the nation, but Noozhawk readers can help her achieve her goal by voting for Rocha Swim — once a day until the contest closes at 9 a.m. March 17. Click here to vote.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week, from my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web (Read it and try not to weep): She Takes Her Dying Pet Dog on a Bucket List Adventure.

HT to my friend, Kelly Gilfillan, CEO of Brentwood Home in suburban Nashville.

                                                                 •        •        •

Venture out on the ocean and you’ll often be chased by dolphins frolicking in your wake. Occasionally, orcas want to get in on the action, too. Think anyone on the boat needed a change of swim trunks after this?

(This Blew My Mind video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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