Friday, August 17 , 2018, 5:05 pm | Fair 75º


Local News

Fatal Crash Closes Highway 166 East of Cuyama Valley

Hyundai sedan was attempting to pass other vehicles when it slammed into a hay-baling tractor

Highway 166 was shut down east of New Cuyama on Friday after a sedan slammed into a hay-baling tractor, killing one person. Click to view larger
Highway 166 was shut down east of New Cuyama on Friday after a sedan slammed into a hay-baling tractor, killing one person. (Contributed photo)

A fatal crash involving farm equipment and a sedan closed Highway 166 west of the Cuyama Valley for three hours Friday afternoon.

Just before 2 p.m., crews began responding to the fatal crash on a section designated Highway 33 since it's a north-south segment where both highways merge, Buttonwillow California Highway Patrol  Officer Adam Taylor told Noozhawk.

The crash near the Elkhorn Grade involved a southbound hay squeeze vehicle and a northbound white 2003 Hyundai sedan, Taylor said. 

Witnesses told CHP officers that the sedan's driver was in the opposite lane, passing traffic with insufficient room, Taylor said. Broken yellow lines make the area a legal passing zone but only if conditions are safe.

"The Hyundai never appeared to try to get back into his lane. He stayed in that southbound lane right up to the point of impact, never braked or swerved out of the way," Taylor said. 

The sedan's lone occupant,  a 49-year-old man from Chatsworth, was pronounced dead at the scene, Taylor said.

The driver's name was withheld pending notification of relatives.

The 55-year-old man driving the hay squeeze, which was registered out of Cuyama and is a street legal vehicle, was not injured. 

The roadway reopened just before 5 p.m., the CHP said.

"It's backed up for miles in both directions right now," Taylor said about 20 minutes before the roadway reopened for Friday night drivers.

During the closure, the CHP urged motorists to use Highway 46 to access Highway 101.

Also Friday afternoon, Santa Maria-based CHP officers handled a two-vehicle crash that caused minor-injuries on Highway 166 near Bull Canyon Road. 

Traffic on Highway 166 has been especially heavy recently due to the closure of Highway 101 near Montecito.

To travel south of Santa Barbara motorists have to take a detour to I-5, using either Highway 166 north of Santa Maria or Highway 46 at Paso Robles.

Caltrans and the CHP have been recommending that people take Highway 46, which is wider and has passing lanes.

Highway 33 also is closed between the area north of Ojai to south of the Ventura/Santa Barbara counties line at Lockwood Valley Road due to mudslides so that north-south route is not available to motorists, Caltrans said.​

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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