Santa Barbara resident Philip Nevarez, 66, died Sunday night after his 2000 Plymouth minivan crashed into a tree just north of Santa Claus Lane on Highway 101 southbound. Around 11:35 p.m., said CHP Sgt. Jim Richards in a press release, in light traffic the minivan traveled off the highway, across the right shoulder, and into a “large tree.” The minivan hit the tree head-on, causing the airbags to deploy.
“Preliminary investigation indicates the driver was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision,” said Richards. The man, whose name has not been released pending next of kin notification, died on scene.
The right lane of southbound Highway 101 closed for about two-and-a-half hours while CHP recovered the car and began their investigation into the reason for the crash. Traffic was rerouted to the left lane, said the CHP release.