[Update: 2:50 p.m.] Details from the incident that closed Highway 101 this morning have been released by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office. Dispatch was notified around 6:30 a.m. that two juveniles, ages 14 and 15, had taken a white van from a group home on South Bradley Road in Santa Maria. Another call came that the van was being driven recklessly to the south; it was spotted by a Sheriff’s deputy just past Highway 246. The van struck a pickup truck as it was followed by the deputy, who was joined by a CHP officer. It went off the road at the top of the Nojoqui Grade, flattening its tires, and landed in the center divider.
A short time later, another CHP officer collided with cars that had slowed with the traffic. In the traffic jam were two plain-clothes detectives, who helped render first aid with the other officers on the enforcement stop.
The two teens have been charged with robbery, vehicle theft, felony evasion of law enforcement, child endangerment, and fleeing scene of accident.
[Original Story] A carjacking pursuit that started in the Santa Maria area around 7 a.m. on Tuesday ended in the collision of five vehicles, including a California Highway Patrol cruiser. Details of the carjacking itself, which involved juveniles, have not yet been released by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. Highway 101 southbound remains closed in the Buellton area and will be for another two hours, said Officer Rick Larson of the Buellton CHP office. Northbound 101 is open, he said.
A felony stop was in progress, said Sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover, and cars near the Nojoqui Grade were slowing or stopped for the incident. The CHP cruiser responding to the incident collided with four vehicles in the hilly area, including a tractor-trailer rig. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital received seven patients, reported Mike Eliason of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, including the officer and two infants. They had minor injuries. The seventh person was moderately injured.
This story will be updated with new information as it becomes available.