The man accused of causing a head-on vehicle collision that killed three members of a Solvang family on Highway 154 last month entered a not-guilty plea in Santa Barbara Superior Court on Wednesday.
John Roderick Dungan, 28, of Santa Barbara has been charged with three counts of murder after an Oct. 25 crash that killed Rebecca Vanessa Goss Bley, 34, of Solvang, and her children — 2-year-old Lucienne Bley Gleason, and 4-month-old Desmond Bley Gleason.
Dungan made his second Santa Barbara County Superior Court appearance Wednesday before Judge Clifford Anderson for an arraignment hearing.
He entered his plea through his primary attorney, Jeremy Lessem from the law firm Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, which has offices in Santa Barbara and elsewhere in California.
Dungan appeared dressed in civilian clothes and in a wheelchair during the proceedings, which lasted about 10 minutes.
The Santa Barbara California Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, which happened near the Cold Spring Bridge, and Capt. Cindy Pontes said they believe Dungan deliberately veered into oncoming traffic with the intention of colliding with another car.
Dungan was driving west, toward the Santa Ynez Valley, when his vehicle crossed the double-yellow lines and slammed into Bley’s vehicle, which was traveling eastbound. Dungan’s vehicle crashed on the bridge, while Bley’s vehicle crashed onto the right shoulder of the roadway and caught fire.
A third vehicle, which was traveling behind Bley’s, was also involved in the crash and caught fire on the shoulder, according to the CHP.
Bley and her children were pronounced dead at the scene, and Dungan was airlifted to the hospital with major injuries. Both people in the third vehicle were uninjured.
The criminal case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagner.
Dungan was ordered to return to court on Jan. 31, when Judge Thomas Adams may set a date for the preliminary hearing.
Dungan remained in custody on Wednesday at the Santa Barbara County Jail, where he was being held without bail.
— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.