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Southbound Highway 101 Reopened After Pursuit, Multi-Vehicle Injury Crash on Nojoqui Grade

Two teenage robbery suspects taken into custody after pursuit; CHP vehicle involved in collision with four unrelated vehicles

Four vehicle collision on Nojoqui Grade
Seven people were injured in a five-vehicle injury collision on the Nojoqui Grade Tuesday morning, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.  (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

Seven people were injured in a five-vehicle collision south of Buellton on the Nojoqui Grade Tuesday morning, which authorities say happened shortly after a law enforcement pursuit of robbery suspects on southbound Highway 101. 

Patients from the collision, six with minor and one with moderate injuries, were transported to local hospitals after the 7:13 a.m. crash, and the California Highway Patrol said all southbound lanes reopened in the area at about 3 p.m.  

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that two boys, ages 14 and 15, confronted a female employee at a group home and demanded keys to a vehicle owned by the facility on the 4600 block of South Bradley Road.

"​One of the subjects also allegedly choked the victim with a chain until she relinquished the keys. The two suspects then stole a white van and fled the scene," sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said. 

The alleged robbery was reported around 6:30 a.m., and the CHP received calls of a reckless vehicle that matched the description of the stolen van, Hoover added. 

A sheriff's deputy spotted the suspect vehicle on southbound Highway 101 near Highway 246, and started a pursuit that the CHP soon took over, she said. 

The suspect allegedly hit a pickup truck and continued driving, then lost control of the vehicle at the Nojoqui Summit and went off the roadway, which flattened the vehicle's tires, according to Hoover.

Four vehicle collision on Nojoqui Grade Click to view larger
A California Highway Patrol vehicle was involved and an officer was injured in the Tuesday morning collision. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

The van was disabled and the driver soon pulled into the center divider of southbound Highway 101, where "a high-risk enforcement stop was initiated," she said.

Both boys, who were not identified because of their age, were medically evaluated and taken into custody by the Sheriff's Department, Hoover said. 

They were booked on charges of robbery, vehicle theft, evading of law enforcement, child endangerment and fleeing the scene of an accident, she said. 

The five-vehicle collision happened after the enforcement stop, and did not involve the suspect vehicle, according to the Sheriff's Department. 

"Shortly following the enforcement stop, a responding CHP Officer was involved in a collision with several unrelated vehicles who had slowed due to the traffic," Hoover said in the statement. 

The CHP is investigating the collision, and the Sheriff's Department is investigating the alleged crimes in Santa Maria. 

The CHP vehicle was responding to assist with the pursuit and "ended up getting in a multi-vehicle collision," said CHP Officer Rick Larson. He confirmed that the CHP officer in the vehicle was one of the injured parties. 

Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said four vehicles and a tractor-trailer were involved in the crash, including a California Highway Patrol unit, and seven people were injured. 

There were six minor injuries and one moderate injury, including two infants with minor injuries.

Patients were transported to Goleta Valley, Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospitals. 

Initial reports indicated the suspect vehicle involved in the pursuit crashed into the center divider, but the Sheriff's Department later said the vehicle became disabled and pulled over in the center divider. 

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli 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.

Four vehicle collision on Nojoqui Grade Click to view larger
Authorities say a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 101 happened after a law enforcement pursuit of robbery suspects in the area.  (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

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