A wrong way driver is dead after entering the 101 freeway in the opposite direction early Monday morning and colliding with two additional cars near Santa Monica Road in Carpinteria. The name of the deceased has not yet been released, but according to a report from the California Highway Patrol, he was a 44-year-old male from Newbury Park driving a 2001 Infiniti I30 that had been going in the wrong direction since Summerland.
CHP officers were actively trying to find the driver at the time of the crash, which was also preceded by a noninjury accident further up the road. It is unknown whether alcohol or drugs played a factor in the accident, and an investigation is ongoing.
The incident occurred at about 1:07 a.m. on February 17 just north of the Santa Monica Road turnoff, when the Infiniti, going southbound in northbound lanes, struck a Nissan Altima driven by Rosie Bermudez, 32 of Goleta, with Manual Partida, 32 of Goleta, as a passenger; both had minor injuries.
The Infiniti continued driving, “out of control” according to the report, before slamming into a Honda Odyssey; both cars quickly caught on fire. The driver and passenger of the Honda, Phuc Thanh Le, 47, and Thoi Phan, 36, both of Goleta, were able to escape their vehicle as it caught fire along with two children, aged 5 and 13; Le sustained major injuries, through Phan’s were considered minor.
The driver of the Infiniti, however, did not escape his burning car, and died at the scene. The 101 was closed for several hours.