A driver trapped inside her burning car is recovering in the hospital with moderate injuries on Friday.
The driver, described as a middle aged woman, plunged 50 feet over the side while driving along southbound U.S. Highway 101 near the area known as Three Bridges in Buellton, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni.
The incident occurred just before 12:30 p.m.
A California Highway Patrol collision report says the driver of a red Volvo lost control of her car for unknown reasons, and collided with a concrete rail on the bridge. The impact continued sending the car out of control onto the right shoulder, down a dirt embankment, and collided with a tree.
Soon after plunging 50 feet, the car caught on fire. The fire began in the engine compartment and was quickly spreading to the passenger compartment. The driver was trapped inside, says Zaniboni.
Emergency responders were able to quickly put out the fire. The driver had to be extricated from her car. According to Zaniboni, her injuries are related to smoke inhalation and the crash itself, not the fire.
She was flown to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital where her condition remains unknown at this time.
Southbound U.S. 101 lanes were closed for 10 minutes to allow for a medical helicopter to land, and to allow crews to mop up the scene.
A Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputy suffered minor cuts and smoke inhalation during the extrication of the driver. That deputy was treated for his injuries and released.
The cause of the crash is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol.
Video of medical helicopter landing at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with the driver of the Buellton crash.