A Solvang man spent Monday night trapped in his wrecked Toyota Prius after he drove off the side of Highway 154 and refused to ask authorities for help.

According to CHP spokesperson James Richards, Michael Crolius was driving westbound on the 154 at a high speed at around 4 p.m. when he failed to negotiate a turn near Royal Egyptian Farms. His car left the roadway, became airborne, and hit a descending embankment, Richards said. “Other than disturbed dirt along the shoulder, there was no evidence of a collision visible from the roadway,” he explained. (Earlier in the day, Richards noted, motorists had reported seeing Crolius driving recklessly on Highway 101 in the Summerland area.)

Crolius contacted family members and asked for help, but he requested law enforcement not be called. Concerned family members called the CHP anyway at around 5 p.m. to report the accident, but had a hard time pinpointing for authorities where Crolius said he was. CHP officers searched the 154 from Buellton to State Street throughout the night, but were unable to locate Crolius or his car. “At one point last night, family members were along the side of the road at the scene, but were unaware due to the darkness,” Richards said Tuesday. “Air support was also unable to locate a collision scene.”

At around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, a CHP officer spotted the Prius down an embankment. It was overturned and laying on the driver’s side. Crolius was standing inside but hadn’t been able to get out because of a shoulder injury he sustained in the crash. He was eventually extracted and transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment.

“Prescription drug impairment is being investigated as the primary cause of this collision,” Richards said. “If convicted, this would be Mr. Crolius’s fourth DUI in three years.”


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