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$4.8 Million Settlement In Goleta Wrong Way Crash

Santa Barbara – The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and the County have agreed to pay $4.8 million dollars to settle a lawsuit involving a fatal wrong way car crash on Highway 101 in Goleta.

The accident happened in the early morning hours of November 8, 2009. The wrong way driver identified as Richard Rodriguez had been taking illegal drugs and drinking alcohol before he got behind the wheel. Rodriguez was driving north in the southbound lanes of highway 101 near Glen Annie when he hit a car head on. Two people inside the victims car died and two passengers were seriously injured.

Rodriguez suffered only minor injuries and had a blood alcohol content of .22, three times the legal limit. He also had cocaine and alcohol in his system. Rodriguez was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, with gross negligence and sentenced to 13 years in state prison. Just nine days before the deadly crash, Rodriguez had been arrested for driving while intoxicated.

A lawsuit filed by the victims families claimed a sheriff’s deputy who responded to the wrong way driver call that night violated department policy and that his actions contributed to the crash. Attorney Barry Cappello who represents the victims families issued a press release that places much of the blame on the Sheriff’s Department.

Read the Families’ Press Release

However, Sheriff Bill Brown issued his own press release late Tuesday morning denouncing what he called Cappello’s “biased” written statement. Brown wrote, “While Mr. Cappello blames this tragedy on the County and a Sheriff’s deputy, the real cause of this heartbreaking criminal event was Richard Rodriguez, whose reckless behavior in using illegal drugs, drinking alcohol to excess and then driving the wrong way on the freeway is the real cause of this tragedy.”

Read the Sheriff’s Press Release

Brown also states that the deputy did not violate department policy and the settlement does not admit any wrongdoing or liability on the part of the Sheriff’s department or the County.

Watch KEY News starting at five for the latest on this story.

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