Santa Barbara- S County

Triple Fatal Crash Leaves Behind Many Unanswered Questions

Mechanical issues with the car and driver impairment are part of a detailed investigation

Triple fatal Mesa crash still has many unanswered questions

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A special team of investigators has been carefully going over the crash scene and talking to the lone survivor of a triple fatal crash that occurred Tuesday night on the Santa Barbara Mesa.

The crash scene is on Cliff Drive near La Marina.

It took the life of the driver Angel Flores, and two passengers, Ben Rubio and Daniella Hearn.  Rubio and Hearn were in the back seat.  A third passenger Michael Mendoza survived and is in serious condition at Cottage Hospital where he has been in contact with investigators.

Hearn was a single mother and social media pictures show her with a toddler.
She was enrolled at Santa Barbara City College.

Rubio was recently working with outreach groups to get help from organizations including Catholic Charities, due to his financial situation.  On August 8, he was given a special letter from the Noah's Anchorage YMCA Youth Crisis Shelter to help him.

This was a high speed collision that had multiple impact points including a curb, water main, two large boulders, a fiberglass power pole and a large tree. 

The mangled metal remains that was once a Lexus sedan was removed Wednesday morning about ten hours after the crash.   Some personal items inside were left at the scene in the landscaping.  Some car parts are in a pile.

Rubio attended Bishop Diego High School about ten years ago. The Director of Alumni Relations Rachel Manzo was in his class.  She remembers him as upbeat, and always giving hugs.

"He lived by his own drum beat.  He learned a lot of things at high school and did his own thing but he was always so funny and so welcoming and so affectionate.    I remember getting daily hugs from Ben in high school.  He was always very  genuine," said Manzo. 

She also said the school and Rubio's classmates will be available to help where they are needed.

At the crash scene, a resident said more traffic controls to slow cars down in the area would help.  Karen Jacobson has seen many accidents in the last 30 years.  She says better lighting or a flashing "red light like they have on Las Positas" would go a long way towards safety.  "We have had three fire hydrants (sheered off) and so forth. So this is not the first time it has happened.  It is the fifth time as long as I have lived here," said Jacobson.

She says she has asked the city to help with some of the cleanup and repairs, along with tree trimming and new landscaping, but was rejected.   She had to deal with another crash two years ago that ruined her shrubs and it took two years to bring the area back together.

Jacobson also says there has been an RV parking problem in the area at times that blocks drivers views, leading to traffic safety issues.

Late this afternoon, Santa Barbara police returned to the scene to take additional pictures and measurements for their report.  Special equipment was used for electronic accurate calculations.


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