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Felony Charges Filed Against Driver in Fatal Crash Near Lompoc

A driver accused of being drunk on Friday when he lost control of his car, which collided with another vehicle on Highway 1 south of Lompoc, is facing four felony charges, including vehicular manslaughter for the death of a female passenger.

Manuel Santos, 29, of Lompoc has been charged with one count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, and one count of felony child endangerment, according to Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley.

He also faces a special allegation for causing great bodily injury plus a misdemeanor charge of driving without a license.

Santos was scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Tuesday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Lompoc. 

However, Santos didn’t enter a plea, and the arraignment was continued until Thursday, Chief Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola said Tuesday night.

Santos is accused of causing the two-vehicle crash that killed Jesenia Liborio, 22, of Lompoc.

He was driving a 2005 Toyota Corolla on Highway 1 south of Jalama Road at 1:20 a.m. when the vehicle drifted off the right side of the roadway, where it struck an asphalt drainage culvert, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The Corolla continued along the dirt shoulder and struck a large boulder, which caused the vehicle to become airborne and slam into a power pole, the CHP said.

The Corolla then spun back into the traffic lanes, where is was struck by a 1997 Toyota Avalon that also was northbound on Highway 1.

An 8-year-old girl from Mexico was ejected from the right rear seat of Santos’ vehicle. She was not wearing a seat belt, and suffered major injuries, the CHP said.

The CHP did not release the girl’s name, but said last week her injuries appeared life-threatening.

The driver of the Avalon, Matthew Woodman, 23, of Lompoc, and his passenger, Mia Rodierda-Wallo, 20, of Lompoc, sustained moderate injuries, and were taken by ambulance to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria.

The crash closed Highway 1 in both directions for a time Friday morning.

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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