I am writing to implore the powers that be to add a guard rail along the right lane of southbound Highway 101 for approximately 1/8th of a mile north of southbound Highway 101 at Olive Mill Road exit in Montecito.

A guardrail is necessary as we were made aware on Sunday morning, August 13, 2023 at approximately 3 a.m. when a violent vehicle crash caused by a Toyota Camry sedan slamming into an SUV carrying two people occurred on the southbound lane of the freeway just north of the Olive Mill Road exit in Montecito. The driver of the Toyota was charged with DUI, according to the police report. The crash resulted in the SUV going down the embankment through brush, sheering off part of a large pine tree and decimating a new chain link fence, striking and coming to rest within inches within inches of the patio wall of one of the condominium units. Sadly, the passenger was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. The driver was badly injured.

An emergency vehicle arrived within approximately 3 minutes, followed by 2-3 fire trucks. Multiple first responders with flash and floodlights followed to locate the vehicle and assist victims.

In the last 10 years, four vehicles have careened off the freeway at this location.

The most recent prior to Sunday’s calamity occurred on January 7, 2021, when a loaded cement truck overturned, destroying an old eucalyptus tree that cannot be replaced and had provided privacy to residents from the freeway traffic. Fortunately, the driver was not badly injured. Now there is an empty lot with a view of traffic.

Safety is the most important factor here, for vehicle occupants and residents. Until Sunday we had been lucky that none of the prior accidents resulted in death or fire common in such crashes. A fire in that area would almost certainly destroy multiple homes. A guard rail would likely have prevented the victim’s death Sunday, and will provide a buffer to an impaired driver, preventing veering off road and down the embankment.

Again, I implore you to prioritize this to prevent more tragedy and liability. Four similar accidents in the same spot is too many, and now sadly someone has lost a life. Immediately is the time to act to safeguard against further deaths, injuries, and property damage.

I want to acknowledge and thank our local first responders who, once again, were on the scene within a matter of minutes. We are grateful to all of them.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.