Credit: SBPD

A fatal head-on collision on West Carrillo Street has resulted in the death of retired UCSB administrator Steve Carlson, after colliding with a vehicle that was driving at a high speed with no headlights on Sunday night. 

The Santa Barbara Police Department received numerous reports of a serious traffic collision in the area of West Carrillo Street and Miramonte Drive. Two vehicles had collided head-on, a red Nissan sedan and a Mercedes sedan. Both drivers were the only occupants of their vehicles, and both needed to be extricated by the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.

Officers discovered the red Nissan sedan, driven by 24-year-old Santa Barbara resident Jose Fermin Lopez Jr., was traveling west on West Carrillo Street at a high rate of speed and without headlights on. It is believed Lopez’s vehicle drifted into the lane of oncoming traffic. Carlson was driving the Mercedes sedan east on West Carrillo Street at that time. Lopez’s vehicle collided head-on with Carlson’s.

Both drivers were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries, but Carlson succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead several hours after the collision occurred.  

Officers believe Lopez Jr. was under the influence of alcohol, according to Ethan Ragsdale, public information officer for the Santa Barbara Police Department. Lopez is suspected of being at fault for the collision, was placed under arrest, and will be booked in the Santa Barbara County Jail pending his release from the hospital. Lopez is being charged with DUI causing death and vehicular manslaughter.

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