An elderly woman traveling southbound on Highway 101 was killed Tuesday afternoon when she lost control of her car near the Patterson Avenue exit and plunged 50 feet into Maria Ignacio Creek.
The 81-year-old Santa Ynez Valley resident’s vehicle drifted onto the right shoulder of the highway and careened through a chain link fence, eventually coming to rest in the creek culvert. California Highway Patrol spokesman Don Clotworthy said the woman, who was wearing her seatbelt at the time, was crushed in her four-door 2002 Toyota Camry when it flipped onto its roof.
Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. spokesman Capt. Diondray Wiley said the woman died at the scene before firefighters arrived at approximately 2:15 p.m.
This is the second accident to occur in this location in the past month and a half. The last crash happened on April 18, when a flatbed truck ran off the road in the same place after its driver fell asleep at the wheel.
Clotworthy said he thinks it is a coincidence that the two accidents occurred in the same place in such a short time span, and he said there had been no other previous crashes at that location.
However, he said police and firefighters on the scene both said they thought the second accident was very unusual.
“It is an eerie feeling,” Clotworthy said. “The odds of something like this happening are very slim, but we beat the odds.”
Clotworthy said there are currently no plans to build reinforced barriers to prevent other cars from driving into the creek. He said extra safety measures are not necessary because road conditions were not responsible for the accidents.
Because of the woman’s age, Clotworthy said he believes it is likely that a medical problem could have contributed to the accident. He said the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Bureau is currently investigating her death.