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Freak Accident Blamed in Santa Barbara Parking Lot Death

Police believe Nathaniel Curteman was fatally injured after activating an external starter switch

Santa Barbara police have concluded that a freak accident involving an external starter switch led to the death of Nathaniel Curteman on Dec. 15 in a downtown parking lot.
Santa Barbara police have concluded that a freak accident involving an external starter switch led to the death of Nathaniel Curteman on Dec. 15 in a downtown parking lot. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk file photo)
Nathaniel Curteman
Nathaniel Curteman

A freak accident caused the death of a 27-year-old man whose body was found pinned under his pickup truck last month in a city parking lot, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Nathaniel Curteman was found dead in the early morning hours on Dec. 15 in Parking Lot 11 on the 500 block of Anacapa Street.

At the time, police would say only that the incident involved "unusual circumstances."

However, on Friday, Sgt. Riley Harwood explained that the pickup truck had been modified by a previous owner with an external switch, which required the driver to turn on the ignition, then get out of the vehicle to start the engine by reaching under the fender.

Curteman, who had only owned the vehicle for a few weeks, apparently left it in drive before activating the switch, which caused it to lurch forward and strike him after it started, Harwood said.

"The vehicle basically ran over him and pinned him under the front of the car," Harwood said. "Perhaps he was not familiar with that routine for starting the vehicle."

Such external starter switches are sometimes used to prevent vehicle theft, Harwood said.

Click here to read Nathaniel Curteman's obituary.

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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