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Man Dies When SUV Plunges Into Creek Near Gaviota Tunnel

Vehicle lands on its roof off northbound Highway 101; victim declared dead at scene

A vehicle crashed off the roadway into a creekbed Monday afternoon and the driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
A vehicle crashed off the roadway into a creekbed Monday afternoon and the driver was pronounced dead at the scene.  (Ryan Cullom photo)

A fatal single-vehicle rollover accident was reported near the Gaviota Tunnel Monday afternoon, according to the Buellton-area California Highway Patrol office.

The initial report was for an overturned vehicle on northbound Highway 101 with major injuries, but that was changed to a fatality, according to the CHP.

This incident occurred hours after the driver of a minivan was injured in a rollover in the same area, just north of the tunnel.  

Two fire engines responded at 3:13 p.m. to the report of a vehicle on its roof off the roadway in a creek bed, which had about 2 feet of water in it at the time, Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said. 

The single occupant, a man in his mid-50s, was pronounced dead at the scene.  

The Santa Barbara Coroner’s Office and California Highway Patrol are investigating a fatal accident on northbound Highway 101 near the Gaviota Tunnel. Click to view larger
The Santa Barbara Coroner’s Office and California Highway Patrol are investigating a fatal accident on northbound Highway 101 near the Gaviota Tunnel.  (Ryan Cullom photo)

“For unknown reasons, the driver lost control of the vehicle and as a result the vehicle overturned in the center median, down an embankment,” according to a CHP accident report.

“The vehicle landed on its roof and trapped the driver. Rescue crews attempted to free the driver but the driver was pronounced deceased at the scene.”

It was raining at the time of the accident and the man has not been identified, the CHP said. 

The CHP is investigating the accident and the Santa Barbara County Coroner's Office responded to the scene, Zaniboni said. 

CHP officers were responding to multiple injury accidents all over Santa Barbara County and a major gravel spill that closed both northbound and southbound Highway 101 lanes on the Nojoqui Grade near the Highway 1 separation.

Just over an hour later, another rollover accident to the north sent one person to the hospital with minor injuries.

The crash at Highway 135 and Highway 1 south of Orcutt occurred shortly before 4:30 p.m., Zaniboni.

The vehicle ended up off the roadway, according to the CHP.

The injured person was taken to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria.

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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