An 18-year-old UCSB student died Thursday night after she was thrown from a car during an accident on State Route 217, near campus.
Freshman Abigail Isabela was not wearing a seatbelt when she was ejected from the car, driven by 19-year-old Santa Barbara City College student Jose Carlos Valdez. Officer Donald Clotworthy, spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol, said Isabela suffered massive head trauma and died during surgery at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital at 10:15 p.m. Valdez, who will be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and felony vehicular manslaughter, and the three other passengers in the car were also transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for observation and treatment.
Clotworthy said the five passengers were driving on SR 217 toward the southbound Highway 101 onramp when Valdez attempted to pass a slower car traveling in the right lane. He reportedly lost control of his 1990, four-door Acura while rounding a sharp curve and crashed into a metal guardrail on the left side of the road.
Clotworthy said the vehicle broke through the guardrail and flew down a 50-foot embankment at approximately 6:55 p.m., rolling over several times in the southbound lanes of Hwy. 101 before coming to a stop. He said Isabela was sitting in the middle seat in the back of the car when she was ejected from the vehicle.
The passengers were transported to Cottage Hospital by an American Medical Response ambulance, Clotworthy said. Passenger and 20-year-old UCSB student Trevor Page complained of pain to his head and neck, and 18-year old UCSB student Flannery Hill sustained cuts and contusions. He said Valdez sustained a laceration to his upper lip and complained of head and chest pain. Passenger and 18-year-old UCSB student Jessica Dutkovic was reported to have a laceration on her left hand. All passengers were held at the hospital overnight except Hill, who was released the night of the accident after being treated for her injuries.
Southbound 101, between the Patterson Avenue off-ramp and the SR 217 onramp, was closed for approximately two hours to allow for cleanup and investigation of the accident scene, Clotworthy said. All southbound Hwy. 101 traffic was rerouted on the freeway via the Patterson Avenue onramps and off-ramps.
The accident, Clotworthy said, is still under investigation by CHP Officer Joe Rodriguez.