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Carpinteria Civic Leader Jim Drain Found Dead of Gunshot Wound After Crash Off Highway 150

Entrepreneur and former Carpinteria Valley Water District board member was reported missing by family Monday night

The body of Jim Drain, 77, of Carpinteria, was found Tuesday in the wreckage of a minivan that crashed off Highway 150 in Carpinteria. The wreck remained under investigation.
The body of Jim Drain, 77, of Carpinteria, was found Tuesday in the wreckage of a minivan that crashed off Highway 150 in Carpinteria. The wreck remained under investigation. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)

A 77-year-old Carpinteria man who had been reported missing was found dead with a gunshot wound Tuesday in the wreckage of a vehicle that crashed off Highway 150, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Emergency crews were called out shortly after noon to a report of a van over the side of eastbound Highway 150, east of Highway 101, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The victim was identified as James Drain of Carpinteria, who had been reported missing Monday night, sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said. 

“It appears that he has a gunshot wound and at this point it’s under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department as to the cause and manner of death,” she said.

“At this point it does not appear that any foul play was involved.” 

Drain hadn’t been seen since noon Monday, Hoover said, and his family filed a missing-person report with the Sheriff’s Department at about 8 p.m.

He was considered an at-risk missing person because he had a physical disability, she said.

She said investigators were able to ping Drain’s cell phone Tuesday morning, which gave them a rough location to search for him.

A county helicopter located his vehicle — a Chrysler Town & Country minivan — at midday Tuesday in some brush about 50 feet down a cliff near a curving section of roadway, Hoover said.

The CHP transferred the investigation to the Sheriff’s Department when it became clear the incident involved more than a vehicle crash. 

Jim Drain and his late wife, Jane, during a Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce awards banquet shortly before his wife’s death in 2013. Click to view larger
Jim Drain and his late wife, Jane, during a Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce awards banquet shortly before his wife’s death in 2013. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk file photo)

Drain was a longtime Carpinteria entrepreneur and civic leader. He and his eldest son, Matt, owned 4J Drain Construction, and he was a past chairman of the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce, a former board member of the Carpinteria Valley Water District, and was active at All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito.

In a statement to Noozhawk on Tuesday night, Carpinteria Valley chamber board president John Thomas said the chamber community was “deeply saddened” by the death of one of its stalwart leaders.

“He was an outstanding Carpinterian and a great human being — one of a kind,” said Thomas, community outreach director and wholesales manager at Farmers’ West Flowers & Bouquets. “His charm and upbeat antics will be missed.

“We can find solace in knowing that he is together again with his lovely wife, whose equally bright light went out before his.”

Lynda Lang, the chamber’s retired president and CEO, hailed Drain’s “stellar and engaged” leadership on the board.

“He always had great ideas, a positive attitude, and was an inspiration and mentor to many,” she told Noozhawk. “He will be deeply missed.”

Drain’s wife, Jane, died in 2013. He is survived by their three children — Matt, Tim and Elizabeth — and seven grandchildren.

The case is being investigated by the Sheriff’s Department.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli 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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