California Highway Patrol officials continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragic crash of a tractor trailer into a cottage home on Tuesday, August 24, killing the three residents who lived there.

The truck driver in the fatal collision, Joaquin Morales, had been cited 17 times for vehicle code infractions since 2001, including twice for maintenance of the brakes of his vehicle. Brake failure is believed to be the cause of last week’s crash. All the incidents took place in Ventura County, where Morales lives.

Authorities say he drove his truck — which he owned — up to Santa Ynez to a quarry to fill two trailers — which he was leasing — with gravel. Before getting on Highway 154, Morales experienced some sort of brake issue, but thought he had resolved it before entering the highway. Once he made it over the grade and began descending, however, he realized he had problems, authorities said. He made it down Highway 154, crossed over Highway 101, maneuvered the truck into a parking lot behind Palapa Restaurant, and plowed into three parked cars there. His vehicle and two cars spilled down an embankment at the back of the lot, into the small cottage where the three victims lived. Witnesses described smoke billowing from the vehicle’s tires, and CHP officials said Morales — who was treated at the hospital for minor injuries and has been released —  tried at least three different braking systems.

A funeral mass for the three victims — Lorena Guadalupe-Tellez Pacheco, 27, Leon Leonel, 23, and Jaciel Adalberto Tellez Pacheco, eight — was held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Friday. The same day, a fundraiser was held at Hope Ranch Inn. Supervisors Doreen Farr and Janet Wolf were set to meet with Caltrans and CHP officials on Wednesday to talk about truck traffic and safety on Highway 154.


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