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Local News

Santa Barbara Woman Killed in Highway 101 Crash Identified

California Highway Patrol officers have released the name of a 20-year-old Santa Barbara woman who died last week in a car accident on Highway 101, and one local teacher remembered her Monday as a “beautiful soul.”

Alanna Cousins (Marilyn Hantgin photo)
Alanna Cousins (Marilyn Hantgin photo)

San Marcos High School graduate Alanna Cousins, 20, of Santa Barbara, died Thursday night when a vehicle she was traveling in crashed on Highway 101, north of Highway 58 in the Santa Margarita area.

Passenger Aida Pour Khalhali, 19, of Reseda, and driver Molly Armanino, 19, of Santa Cruz, were also in the vehicle and sustained moderate injuries.

CHP officials said the three women were traveling southbound at 11:30 p.m. Thursday in a 2003 Mazda Protoge on Highway 101. The women were traveling from Santa Cruz, where all three were students at UC Santa Cruz, and were coming to Santa Barbara for a weekend music festival.

“For unknown reasons, driver Armanino made a turning movement that caused her to lose control of the Mazda,” the CHP collision report states.

The Mazda struck a bridge railing, and the impact caused the vehicle to roll over and come to rest on its right side down a dirt service road. Khalhali and Armanino exited the vehicle and waved down help from passing motorists.

Alcohol has been ruled out as a factor in the crash, and CHP Officer Adrian Ayala said Monday there were some allegations of mechanical failure with the vehicle, “but I can’t corroborate that at this time,” he said.

Cousins was part of the 2015 class at UC Santa Cruz, and graduated from San Marcos High School in 2011, where she was involved in track and field.

“My heart breaks thinking about Alanna losing her life,” Marilyn Hantgin, head coach of track and field at the school, told Noozhawk on Monday, adding that all of the coaches at San Marcos thought highly of Cousins and are also heartbroken. “She was a very kind and wonderful girl. I only have positive memories of the four years I knew her here at San Marcos.”

Hantgin also coached AIanna’s brother, Taylor, “who is also a kind-hearted young man.”

Hantgin described Cousins as someone who loved her friends and family, was respectful to all and “didn’t have a mean bone in her body.”

“Alanna was a truly giving person,” she said, “and all that knew her will forever be touched by her beautiful soul.”

In addition to athletics, Cousins was also involved with the San Marcos High School Mock Trial team, and coach and social studies teacher Eric Burrows described her as a “caring, perceptive and insightful” student.

“Alanna was a joy to have in class and brought such a positive energy,” Burrows said.

Burrows said Cousins had an intuitive grasp on U.S. history and performed “brilliantly” in his class, with high scores on her AP Exam. 

“She was simply a great and creative student,” he said.

Cousins brought those qualities to mock trial as a senior and the team went on to win the Santa Barbara County Championship. Cousins was also with the team when the went onto the State Finals, where they came in fifth.

“I am so incredibly saddened by the loss of such a gifted and extraordinarily young woman,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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