H-SANTA YNEZ VALLEY

Nov 22, 2010 9:33 PM by Ariel Wesler

Distracted driver causes fatal crash on Highway 154

A Santa Maria man is dead tonight after his car was rear ended by a distracted driver on Highway 154. The Santa Barbara County Coroner's Office identified the man as 51-year-old John Schrader. It was one of two fatal crashes in Santa Barbara County today. The collision happened just before 10-30 this morning at Edison Road.

Schrader was driving a 2004 Honda and was simply sitting at a stop sign on Highway 154 when his life was suddenly cut short. The California Highway Patrol says the driver of a Ford truck is to blame for the crash.

"He just continued right through the intersection and unfortunately ran over the top of the vehicle that was stopped lawfully," said Sgt. Tom Mullen with the Buellton CHP.

Officers says the 47-year-old man briefly took his eyes off the road. No cell phone was involved but it was an equally deadly distraction.

"He had dropped something. He was reaching for something and didn't see the stop sign," Mullen said.

The CHP says the truck smashed into the Honda at 55 miles per hour, sending it spinning off the highway. Paramedics pronounced Schrader dead at the scene.

In the last four years, a signal was installed at the intersection to alert drivers to the stop sign, but the CHP says, most importantly, keep your eyes on the road.

"Have a good space cushion. Follow somebody at a safe distance. Lift your visual horizon, and watch out ahead of you," Mullen said.

The driver of the truck walked away uninjured. He voluntarily submitted to a blood test but the CHP says he did not test positive for drugs or alcohol.

One officer said this is the first major accident he can recall since the stop signal was installed. The driver of the truck was not arrested but could face charges for vehicular manslaughter.

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