Police say Nathaniel Curteman, the 27-year-old Santa Barbara and Lompoc resident who was found pinned under a white Chevrolet pickup truck at an Anacapa Street parking lot on December 15, died in a tragic accident while using the external starter switch on the truck, which he had recently purchased from a friend. External starter switches are most commonly used to perform engine compression tests that determine the engine’s valve strength.
The Chevrolet, which had engine trouble, was modified by its previous owner to start when the driver pressed a switch located on the truck’s exterior, said Sgt. Riley Harwood. This was only intended to be done with the truck in park.
According to Harwood, Curteman — who had owned the truck about a month, two weeks of which it was in the shop — placed the car in drive before he stepped outside to activate start. He was struck and killed by the truck.