A woman has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and causing the horrendous seven-car accident on Highway 154 last night that left one person dead and several others seriously injured. According to the CHP, 54-year-old Priscilla Susman of Santa Barbara sideswiped a car as she was driving eastbound up near Stagecoach and East Camino Cielo roads, causing a chain reaction of collisions. Susman, owner of the Paradise Store on Paradise Road just off of Highway 154, herself suffered life-threatening injuries and is being treated at Cottage Hospital for major chest trauma.
The CHP reports that at approximately 8:20 p.m., Susman was driving westbound on the 154 toward Lake Cachuma and was just west of Cold Spring Bridge. Another driver watched as Susman’s car slowed down and made a U-turn in the middle of the road. Now traveling eastbound toward Santa Barbara, Susman reportedly began driving very erratically, at times crossing over the double-yellow lines into oncoming traffic.
The witness said he attempted to catch up to Susman with the intention of calling 911 to report her, but lost sight of the car — a 1996 Nissan Pathfinder — as it entered a curved stretch of the road. Soon after, Susman’s vehicle purportedly hit the left side of another car, a Pontiac, that was also traveling eastbound. The impact caused both vehicles to spin out of control across traffic, into the westbound lanes, and directly into the path of three cars that were traveling westbound, downhill.
Two of those cars, a Saab and a Toyota, hit Susman’s vehicle, causing it to be pushed off the road into a tree where it came to rest. The impact between the Saab and Susman’s Pathfinder caused the driver of the Saab, a woman, to suffer fatal injuries. The name of the deceased woman has not yet been released pending notification of her family.
Two people suffered serious injuries and are being treated at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for blunt force trauma.