A head-on collision between a Chumash Casino Resort bus and a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup truck killed Simon Ruiz, 52, of Norwalk, Monday morning on Highway 154 west of Zaca Station Road.

Ruiz was driving his pickup truck in light rain on eastbound Highway 154 at about 11:27 a.m., according to a California Highway Patrol (CHP) report. At the same time, a casino-operated 2015 Ford F750 passenger bus for employees was traveling westbound on Highway 154. The bus was carrying one passenger.

For unknown reasons, Ruiz reportedly lost control of his pickup truck, which began to spin counter clockwise. “The vehicle traveled out of control as it crossed over the double yellow lines and adjacent westbound left turn lane, where it entered the westbound traffic lane occupied by the bus,” said the CHP. The bus reportedly turned to the right, but was unable to avoid the truck.

The right center portion of Ruiz’s pickup truck hit the front left corner of the bus, causing the truck to continue its counter clockwise spin before coming to rest in the westbound left turn lane. The bus reportedly continued westbound for a short distance until it came to rest in a dirt area next to the road’s north edge. Ruiz suffered fatal injuries after he was “partially ejected” from his truck. He was declared dead on scene. The bus driver and passenger suffered minor injuries, but both refused medical care.

Both vehicles had been traveling “at an unknown speed,” said the CHP report, and both drivers were wearing their seat belts. Following the accident, Highway 154 was closed from Zaca Station Road to Foxen Canyon Road for approximately two-and-a-half hours. The Buellton CHP Office and the Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office are investigating the cause of the accident, in which drugs and alcohol do not appear to be factor.


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