Three UCSB students are in the intensive care unit of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital after an accident on Highway 217 Wednesday afternoon.
At approximately 3:20 p.m., a black four-door Honda Civic traveling south towards campus in the fast lane flipped across the dirt median and landed upside down on the roof of a black Toyota Corolla in the right hand lane of northbound traffic, California Highway Patrol Traffic Officer Dana Smith said. The accident occurred near the Hollister Avenue exit.
The accident was caused, Smith said, when the Honda’s driver turned his attention away from the road to keep two dogs in the car from eating the fast food he had recently purchased. The car’s left wheels slipped off the road and onto the dirt median strip. When the driver attempted to correct his car’s course by turning the wheel to the right, he lost control of the car, which he tried to correct by turning left. The Honda flipped over the median and landed on top of the Toyota, crushing the Corolla’s roof down to the level of its steering wheel. The Honda continued to roll, nicked the bumper of another northbound car and came to rest in bushes on the side of the road.
The driver of the Honda, a male UCSB student, sustained head injuries, a broken neck and broken arms and was taken by ambulance to Cottage Hospital, Smith said. The driver of the Toyota, a female UCSB student, suffered head and neck injuries. The passenger of the Toyota, another female UCSB student, suffered head injuries. As of press time, all three students were in Cottage’s ICU with their conditions listed as serious.
One of the two dogs was ejected from the Honda and killed. The other dog was injured but alive and was taken to a nearby animal hospital.
Two cars were involved in a related accident on southbound 217. The driver of a two-door black Honda Civic slowed down to look at the accident on the other side of the road and was hit from behind by a Ford Ranger pickup truck whose driver was also looking at the other side of the road. Smith said no one was injured in this accident.
Another accident, which was unrelated to the first and approximately ten minutes after it, occurred on the Sandspit Road exit. The driver of a green Chevy S10 caught its tire on a Sandspit exit curb and rolled down an embankment, CHP Officer Corey Crandall said at scene of the accident. The driver of the Chevy, a female UCSB student, was not injured.
“The driver was already out of the car when I got here,” Crandall said. “The seat belt saved her life.”