Friday, November 16 , 2018, 5:59 am | Fair 46º


Fatality Reported in Crash on Highway 166 East of Santa Maria

Search-and-rescue crews were called out Friday to help recover a body found in the wreckage of a car that ran off Highway 166 east of Santa Maria.

Emergency personnel were dispatched shortly before 7 a.m. to the area of Rockfront Ranch, which is roughly midway between Santa Maria and New Cuyama, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The vehicle was found some 300 feet off Highway 166, near the river bottom, and was not visible from the roadway, said Capt. Dave Zaniboni of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The male driver, the only occupant of the vehicle, was confirmed dead in the wreckage, Zaniboni said.

Authorities were working to identify the man Friday, according to the CHP, which said the vehicle was registered to a Lompoc address. 

The CHP investigation thus far determined that, sometime before the vehicle was discovered, the driver was headed westbound on Highway 166 when for unknown reasons he failed to negotiate a left-hand curve and the right tires went into the gravel shoulder, according to CHP Officer David Medina. 

The driver apparently overcorrected and lost control, and the vehicle continued into the gravel shoulder, hit a guardrail, which gave way, and the "vehicle catapulted down the embankment where it came to rest approximately 300 feet down from the roadway," according to a CHP accident report. 

While the vehicle, a 1995 Isuzu Trooper, was registered to a Lompoc address, authorities have not positively identified the driver, Medina said. 

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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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