Jose Luis Hernandez was sentenced to six weeks in jail and a year of probation after his arrest in July 2021. | Credit: Courtesy

The driver reportedly responsible for the Saturday traffic collision on UCSB’s campus that killed him and two others had been arrested last year for driving recklessly and fleeing from police, records show. 

On July 14, 2021, a Santa Barbara police officer was on patrol in the area of Cabrillo Boulevard and Stearns Wharf when he was flagged down by an individual who’d witnessed a man, later identified as 27-year-old city resident Jose Luis Hernandez, attempting to start fights with numerous people in the area. The officer spotted Hernandez driving a white Nissan and attempted to pull him over, but Hernandez sped away down Cabrillo Boulevard, running a red light in the process and nearly striking a family of cyclists. Hernandez ditched his car in an alleyway off West Mason Street and attempted to escape on foot, but officers soon apprehended him. Hernandez, who had multiple prior convictions for speeding, driving without a license, and other traffic violations, spent six weeks in County Jail after the incident and was placed on one year of probation.

Though authorities have not disclosed the exact circumstances of Saturday’s collision at El Colegio and Stadium roads ― which involved three vehicles and claimed the lives of Hernandez, 20-year-old UCSB student Sebastian Gil, and 20-year-old Daniel Razo of Yorba Linda ― the California Highway Patrol did state one of the cars was driving recklessly and ran a red light, and eyewitness accounts point to Hernandez and his white Nissan as the at-fault party.

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It is not clear if either Gil or Razo were passengers in Hernandez’s car, or if they were in one or both of the other involved vehicles, a BMW and Toyota SUV. Five additional people were injured in the collision, two seriously, officials said.

UCSB is offering support to students affected by the incident through its Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) department, a campus spokesperson said.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help Gil’s family pay for funeral expenses. “Creating a clothing brand of his own, collecting shoes, and listening to music were just a few of the things he enjoyed,” the page reads. “Sebastian will be missed tremendously by the hundreds and hundreds of lives he touched.”

[Correction: The collision occurred on UCSB’s campus, not in Isla Vista.]

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