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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on August 9th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 23 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 23

Two injured after falling 300 feet from Highway 154


Santa Barbara County first responders used a helicopter and the Jaws of Life to save two people from a car on Aug. 6 after it fell 300 feet from Highway 154 near Windy Gap, trapping the occupants inside the vehicle.

The driver of the 2015 Toyota Tundra was Christopher Scott, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Maria Barriga, who said she did not know the passenger’s name.

Scott lost control of the vehicle for unknown reasons at about 2 p.m., according to Santa Barbara County Fire Captain David Zaniboni, causing the car to fall into a ravine below the road. Zaniboni said the first two fire fighters on scene were dropped to the car by a Santa Barbara County Air Operations helicopter, while others hiked down. County fire received support from the U.S. Forest Service, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, and search and rescue volunteers.

The passenger, who Zaniboni said appeared to be a middle-aged woman, was easily removed from the truck and hoisted into the helicopter, which then landed on Highway 154. From there, the woman was taken to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital.

A stretch of Highway 154 was closed for the entire process, according to Zaniboni.

It took fire fighters two hours and heavy extraction equipment to remove Scott from the truck. The fire department’s spreaders, cutters, and Jaws of Life were all lowered into the ravine by a rope system, Zaniboni said.

Scott was eventually removed from the truck, hoisted into the helicopter, and flown directly to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital for treatment.

While it is still unclear why Scott lost control of the vehicle, Zaniboni said Highway 154’s winding, mountainous terrain is to blame for a majority of accidents in the county. CHP Officer Rick Larson said there have been two fatalities this year on the stretch of Highway 154 between Paradise Road and Highway 101 and numerous injuries. There has been one fatal crash on the highway between Paradise Road and State Street, according to CHP Officer John Gutierrez.

“Highway 154 is one of our most treacherous stretches of roadway,” Zaniboni told the Sun. “There are probably more fatalities on that road than any other in Santa Barbara County.”

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