Monday, June 25 , 2018, 1:06 am | Overcast 63º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Vehicle Plunges Off Highway 101, Catches Fire Near Buellton

Woman freed from wreckage, airlifted to Santa Barbara hospital with moderate injuries

A woman is loaded into a helicopter, bound for Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, after being injured in a crash friday afternoon on Highway 101 south of Buellton. Click to view larger
A woman is loaded into a helicopter, bound for Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, after being injured in a crash friday afternoon on Highway 101 south of Buellton. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

A woman whose car veered off Highway 101, plunged down a ravine, hit an oak trees and caught fire near Buellton on Friday afternoon was rescued from the wreckage thanks to the quick work of emergency personnel. 

The accident was reported at about 12:30 p.m. on southbound Highway 101 in the Three Bridges area, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The Volvo station wagon landed in the drainage area about 50 feet below the highway, and was on fire with the woman trapped inside, according to Capt. Dave Zaniboni of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

“As she crossed the first bridge, for some unknown reason, she lost control, hit the bridge, causing no damage to the bridge other than her car, which sent it out of control,” CHP Sgt. Don Clotworthy told Noozhawk. 

“Once she passed the first bridge, she went off the shoulder and down into a ravine and impacted an oak tree,” he added. “What happened after that is the vehicle caught fire slowly, thankfully slowly caught fire.”

County firefighters, CHP officers and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department deputies worked to free her from the vehicle and move her away from the danger. 

“There were a lot of heroic actions that happened here early this afternoon by emergency responders,” Clotworthy said. “This is how when we get together as a team and there’s an emergency situation such as this and a life is in danger we all work together as a team in accomplishing the goal of extricating the victim out of vehicle that was in a very dangerous position, threatening to catch fire, brought her to safety and we immediately got here as quickly as possible to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.”

Crews were able to douse the flames, which were mainly in the engine compartment, and extricate the woman from the wreckage, Zaniboni said.

A Santa Barbara County helicopter was dispatched to the scene to airlift the victim to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The woman suffered moderate injuries, including smoke inhalation, Zaniboni said.

She was conscious at the crash scene, Clotworthy said, adding the accident is under investigation.

"I can't speculate as to what caused her to lose control," Clotworthy said. "We're looking at all aspects of the investigation, including the possible factor of maybe she had a medical condition at the time," Clotworthy said. 

No other vehicles were involved in the incident. 

Highway 101 was shut down briefly to allow the helicopter to land and pick up the patient, a woman believed to be 35-40 years old.

The woman's name and information on her condition were not available.

CHP dispatch indicated the vehicle may have been involved in a hit-and-run collision at Highway 101 and Highway 154 a few minutes before the crash, but that could not be confirmed.

A sheriff deputy sustained minor cuts and smoke inhalation during the extrication of the driver, and subsequently was treated and released, according to the CHP.

The investigation was continuing, including whether alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in this collision, the CHP said.

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.

The wreckage of a car that crashed off Highway 101 south of Buellton Fridayand caught on fire, injuring the female driver, who was airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Click to view larger
The wreckage of a car that crashed off Highway 101 south of Buellton Fridayand caught on fire, injuring the female driver, who was airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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