NORTHERN SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - A deadly collision on Highway 101 in northern Santa Barbara County shut down the freeway for hours
One man is dead and three other people are in the hospital after a fiery accident on Highway 101 just south of Buellton.
The accident forced the closure of Highway 101 in both directions.
It happened just after 2:30pm Thursday afternoon in the northbound lanes of Highway 101 on the Nojoqui Creek bridge a couple miles south of Buellton.
Santa Barbara County firefighters, the CHP and Caltrans crews remained on scene into the night working to clean up the wreckage and debris from the accident.
The CHP says the driver of a big rig truck collided with a BMW passenger car as both were traveling northbound on Highway 101 across the Nojoqui Creek bridge.
The impact of the collision forced the BMW into the concrete guardrail of the bridge sheering off a large portion and leaving the car a mangled wreck.
The big-rig truck plunged over the side of the bridge and down into the creek bed bursting into flames and killing the truck driver.
Firefighters had their hands full trying to save the people in the BMW before it too plunged over the side.
"A 36 year old female, a ten year old female and a ten week old baby", says Santa Barbara County Fire Department Battalion Chief Woody Enos, "they were all trapped in the vehicle, and teetering over the edge as we were trying to use the jaws of life to rescue them."
All three were taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital where they are expected to make a full recovery.
"From what I know at this time the infant was properly secured in the car seat which is most likely why the infant had the least amount of injuries of all three", says CHP Officer Danny Maher, "I think that car seat did save her life."
They can also thank the quick work of U.S. Navy Seabees who were traveling southbound on the highway on their way back to their base at Port Hueneme when they came upon the accident.
"They came up, the all got out and wanted to know if they could help maybe with traffic or something else", Officer Maher says, "they had a large forklift with them and we were able to obtain and have them use so they could support the BMW as it was teetering on the side of the bridge, they supported the BMW so the fire department could get in and extricate the parties."
"Just by chance they happened to be coming through", Officer Maher says, "just good luck on our part."
The CHP says it hopes to re-open the two southbound lanes of Highway 101 and one of the two northbound lanes sometime tonight.
But it says that will only happen after they remove the wreckage of the big rig truck out of the creek bed.
The name of the truck driver killed has not yet been released, it's unknown if he was a Central Coast resident.