Monday, June 18 , 2018, 4:36 pm | Fair 69º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Friends Mourn 3 People Killed in Wreck on Santa Barbara Mesa

Angel Luis Flores, Daniella Diane Hearn and Benjamin Samuel Rubio died in Tuesday night crash on Cliff Drive

A growing memorial marks the location on Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara where three people were killed, and a fourth was critically injured, in a crash Tuesday night.
A growing memorial marks the location on Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara where three people were killed, and a fourth was critically injured, in a crash Tuesday night. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Flower bouquets, candles and handwritten notes have been placed to mark the location of a violent vehicle crash on the Mesa in Santa Barbara that killed three people and critically injured another Tuesday night.

Those who died were identified Thursday as Angel Luis Flores, 24, the driver; and rear-seat passengers Daniella Diane Hearn, 19, and Benjamin Samuel Rubio, 28, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood of the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Michael James Mendoza, 29, of Santa Barbara, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, suffered major injuries, and was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The crash occurred at about 8:50 p.m. Tuesday as the 1997 Lexus sedan was speeding eastbound on Cliff Drive near La Marina Drive, according to police.

The driver lost control, and the Lexus struck a curb, a utility pole, a water line and a tree, before landing in some shrubs in the front yard of a private residence.

“At this point, everyone is still shocked about this whole terrible incident,” said Angie Cupp’salazar, who told Noozhawk she had known Hearn for five years, and Flores and Rubio for three years.

“All of them were young, vibrant and full of life. My heart goes out to the families and may they all rest in peace.”

Angel Luis Flores

Flores was a 2010 alumnus of Ernest Righetti High School in Orcutt.

Santa Maria resident Darric Newman, 24, drove to the site Thursday to pay tribute to his friend and find closure about the violent crash.

Angel Luis Flores Click to view larger
Angel Luis Flores (Contributed photo)

Newman described Flores as a father, fearless and humble.

“I’ve known him since elementary school,” Newman said. “He has always been a nice guy to be around. He has a little boy, and his girlfriend is pregnant and almost due with a little girl.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up for the cost of his cremation.

Daniella Diane Hearn

In 2015, Hearn graduated from La Cuesta Continuation High School.

She was a Santa Barbara City College student who participated in the Single Parents Arriving Ready for College summer bridge program, and was enrolled in the upcoming fall semester, according to SBCC Interim Public Information Officer Luz Reyes-Martin.

Santa Barbara native Raven Sanchez, 26, had been friends with Hearn for three years.

“She was going to meet up with me the night of the crash,” Sanchez said. “I sent a text message and didn’t get a response.”

Daniella Diane Hearn Click to view larger
Daniella Diane Hearn (Facebook photo)

Sanchez described Hearn as “smiley and a sweetheart.” 

“She never complained and taught me to be strong,” Sanchez said.

She said Hearn was the mother of a 1-year-old boy.

“Now a little boy is without a mother and it is going to be hard for him,” Sanchez said. “The area on Cliff Drive needs to be looked at, I’ve heard multiple accidents happen there. They were too young and it is preventable.”

Ventura College student Raki Mata, 22, met Hearn and her boyfriend when Rubio was at The Santa Barbara Lighthouse Foundation.

"I met them both a few months ago," Mata said. "I let them stay at my house a few times when they needed a place."

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been created for Hearn’s funeral service and cremation. A separate GoFundMe page has been established for Hearn’s son.

Benjamin Samuel Rubio

Rubio was a 2006 Bishop Garcia Diego High School alumnus who enjoyed playing on the soccer team. 

“He loved soccer,” Rachael Manzo, director of alumni relations said. “We are praying for his family. We are in mourning and sad about losing him.”

He was a former Santa Barbara City College student who was last enrolled the fall of 2008.

Santa Barbara resident Skylar Wanger, 22, described his friend as outgoing. 

“He was such a spiritual, and great and true friend. He's always looked at me as his young brother and helped me when I needed it the most,” Wanger said. “He's always helped when I was down and at my worst. I hope for the best that he is in a better place.”

Benjamin Samuel Rubio Click to view larger
Benjamin Samuel Rubio (Facebook photo)

Wanger had known the 28-year-old since 2009 and met Rubio through mutual friends.

"He was couch surfing a bit recently, and I did what I could do give him shelter and food," Wanger said.

Friends have established a GoFundMe page to help with Rubio’s funeral and memorial expenses. Click here to make an online donation.

Details about Mendoza were not available Thursday, and Harwood said he could not provide any information about his medical condition.

Officials were still trying to determine whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash Thursday, Harwood said.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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