A man who drove into a center median in an attempt to pass slower drivers on Highway 1 Friday died after triggering a three-car collision and launching his vehicle off the roadway in Santa Barbara County, investigators said.
The 50-year-old Lompoc man was pronounced dead when authorities responded shortly after 11 a.m. to the scene just south of Constellation Road, between Lompoc and the Vandenberg Air Force Base, according to a California Highway Patrol news release.
Officials have yet to release the man’s name.
He had been driving a 1995 Toyota Corolla southbound in the left lane when he apparently became impatient behind a slower-moving vehicle. A third car was in the right lane, going the speed limit, CHP said.
With both southbound lanes occupied, the man swerved into the center median to pass the slower traffic. But as he entered the median strip, his Corolla hit the driver’s side of the vehicle that had been in front of him, authorities said.
That caused the Toyota to spin out of control. The sedan veered into the opposing lanes of traffic and collided head-on with a 2014 Ford Explorer.
The white SUV sat disabled in the lane it was traveling in, but the Corolla was hurled off side of the roadway and went down and embankment. The Toyota appears only as a mangled heap of metal in an image tweeted by the public information officer for the county Fire Department.
The SUV’s driver, 55-year-old Lompoc resident Brenda Begg, was hospitalized with major injuries, including a compound fracture to leg.
The person in the other vehicle the Toyota had clipped was unhurt and able to drive away from the scene after speaking with law enforcement, CHP said.
Vehicle accident, Hwy 1 and Constellation Rd, Lompoc. C/T 1113. Head on accident involving 3 cars. 1 vehicle over the side and on fire. Major extrication required. 1 fatality and 1 critical transported to Cottage Via SBC helo. Call newsline for more info. @YourFireChief pic.twitter.com/KiarSReZtu
— Daniel Bertucelli (@SBCFireInfo) July 26, 2019