Local News

Apr 29, 2010 8:44 PM by Monica Quintero

Drivers too confident on Highway 154

It's the second time in one week a deadly accident has occurred along Highway 154 in Santa Barbara County. The latest took place near Windy Gap around midnight Thursday night. The CHP said it happened after the driver, 38-year-old Bert Berrera of Malibu, tried to avoid rocks in the roadway. The passenger, a 45-year-old male from Malibu died. Investigators have not released the victim's name.

A deadly accident last week claimed the life of 58-year-old Nancy Gonnoud. Investigators said she lost control and collided into the back wheel of a big rig truck and now, another deadly wreck along the same stretch.

Rick Dodge, driver, said, "They made the road better and safer and people think it's safer. They're going to drive faster and it just takes one mistake." Dodge said the roads have improved and drivers are more confident which could be one reason for accidents in the area. As for the most recent fatality, the driver was trying to dodge rocks in the roadway.

At that point, Berrera lost control of the vehicle and ran off the edge of the roadway hitting a large rock hidden in some brush. The vehicle eventually collided with a hillside and ended up back on the roadway on its roof. Gabriel Millos, Santa Barbara resident, said, "It's as dangerous as you make it. If you go fast it has some curves that can sneak up on you and get you into trouble."

CHP said since 2007, there have been 14 deaths on Highway 154 including the two fatalities from this past week. Brian Moeckly, Santa Barbara resident, "I think drivers just have to be diligent, to keep their eyes peeled at all times." Drivers admit it's dangerous but say bottom line it's up to the person behind the wheel to use even more caution along Highway 154.

A Caltrans spokesperson said they do their best to keep debris out of the roadway. But there's the possibility it's there because of the hilly areas and gravel trucks that travel the stretch. He also said Caltrans patrols Highway 154 on a regular basis.

A Caltrans spokesperson says if you see something hazardous in the roadway call 911 or Caltrans. The phone number for Caltrans is 549-3111.

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