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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 7:01 am | Fair 47º


Santa Maria Woman Killed, 2 Injured in Fiery Highway 101 Crash

Authorities say vehicle struck tree and burst into flames along southbound freeway near Donovan Road; 2 pulled from wreckage but passenger Ashley B. Kerr, 25, died

[Friends remember victim Ashley Kerr]

A 25-year-old Santa Maria woman was killed and two other people suffered major injuries Sunday evening in a fiery wreck on Highway 101 in Santa Maria.

A 1999 Chevy Blazer pulling a trailer struck the guardrail and went off southbound Highway 101, south of Donovan Road, at about 5:20 p.m., the California Highway Patrol said.

The vehicle hit two trees off the right side of the roadway, then struck the sound wall before slamming into a third tree, the CHP said.

The vehicle became engulfed in flames shortly after the collision, CHP Officer Rob Miller told Noozhawk.

A witness reported that the vehicle was driving in an erratic manner shortly before the crash, the CHP said.

Santa Maria Fire Department crews also responded to the incident as flames spread into the roadside vegetation.

A female passenger, Ashley B. Kerr, was trapped inside the fiery wreckage and was declared dead at the scene, Miller said.

Ashley B. Kerr, 25, of Santa Maria was killed Sunday night in a fiery crash on Highway 101. (Facebook photo)

She suffered major head trauma and burns, the CHP said.

The wreckage remained in the roadside bushes against the sound wall while CHP officers investigated the crash.

“It’s in there pretty good,” Miller said. “We won’t know much until we pull it out with the tow truck.”

The driver, Travis A. Dashek, 22, of Santa Maria, suffered a lacerated spleen, the CHP said, and was taken to Marian Regional Medical Center for treatment.

A second passenger, Kurt A. Hixenbaugh, 21, of Santa Maria, suffered broken vertebra, and also was hospitalized.

CHP officers at the crash scene were awaiting the arrival of a Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office representative.

The cause of the wreck remained under investigation, but “it is suspected that alcohol and drugs were a contributing factor for this collision,” the CHP said Monday.

Dashek has been arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence. He’s technically not in custody since he remains in the hospital following surgery.

Additional charges are possible, CHP Officer Craig Carrier said.

“Whatever else is going to be filed on him  —  that’s going to be at the discretion of the district attorney,” Carrier said.

The right lane of Highway 101 between Donovan Road and Alvin Avenue remained closed while officers completed their investigation and dealt with the wreckage.

Christmas weekend traffic was slower than normal, but continued flowing on Highway 101.

Miller expected the lane closure could last until approximately 9 p.m.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully reported from the scene. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Sunday’s Highway 101 crash scene as seen from the Alvin Avenue overcrossing in Santa Maria. One person was killed and two others were injured in the fiery crash. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
Sunday’s Highway 101 crash scene as seen from the Alvin Avenue overcrossing in Santa Maria. A 26-year-old Santa Maria woman was killed and two other people suffered major injuries in the fiery accident. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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