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Wrong-Way Driver Killed in Highway 101 Crash Near Los Alamos

Collision with big-rig occurred in southbound lanes a half mile south of Palmer Road; highway lanes closed

A 79-year-old wrong-way driver from Santa Maria was killed Tuesday night when his vehicle slammed head-on into a big-rig on Highway 101 near Los Alamos. Click to view larger
A 79-year-old wrong-way driver from Santa Maria was killed Tuesday night when his vehicle slammed head-on into a big-rig on Highway 101 near Los Alamos. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

A wrong-way driver was killed Tuesday night in a head-on collision with a big-rig on Highway 101 near Los Alamos, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The accident occurred shortly after 9 p.m. in the southbound lanes, half a mile south of Palmer Road.

The driver of the wrong-way vehicle, Florian Paul Sowinski, 79, of Santa Maria, was declared dead at the scene, the CHP said.

His Dodge Grand Caravan overturned and came to rest on the driver's side in the center divider, the CHP said, adding that he was not wearing a seat belt.

The big-rig driver, Stanley Allen Ormode, 66, of Templeton, and 48-year-old Brenton Clough of Santa Barbara, who was driving a third vehicle that was damaged when it struck debris from the initial crash, were not hurt, the CHP said. Both were wearing seatbelts.

Southbound Highway 101 was shut down in the area of the crash, backing up traffic for several miles.

One lane reopened shortly after 10 p.m., the CHP said.

The wrong-way vehicle was northbound in the fast lane on the southbound side of the highway, the CHP said.

County firefighters responded to the accident, along with two AMR ambulances, county sheriff’s deputies and the CHP.

Sheriff's coroner's personnel were on scene to deal with Sowinski's remains.

Some 40-50 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled from the big-rig, and hazmat crews were dispatched to clean it up.

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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