Although the investigation is continuing into a deadly crash involving a tractor-trailer and a sedan last Thursday in Orcutt, the California Highway Patrol expects to seek two charges against the big-rig driver when the final report goes to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.
A Penal Code charge of gross vehicular manslaughter and a Vehicle Code charge of driving under the influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs causing injury to a person will be requested against big-rig driver Gilbert Pena, said CHP Officer Benjamin Smith.
“Additional charges could be added once the investigation is complete, but that’s what we have so far,” Smith said. “The officer has 30 days to complete the report.”
Smith said investigators found prescription drugs in Pena’s possession, but they don’t know exactly what drugs he allegedly had in his system. That won’t be determined until toxicology tests are completed.
Pena, 56, of Santa Maria, was driving a big-rig that slammed into the back of a Nissan sedan on Highway 135 at 6:29 a.m., killing the two people in the Nissan and causing a pileup with four other vehicles, Smith said.
The dead were identified as the Nissan’s driver, Rickie Motley, 60, of Orcutt, and his passenger, Jesse Donald Gluyas, 24, of Solvang.
Pena, who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, was taken by AMR ambulance to Marian Regional Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.
Two other people complained of minor pain and were treated at the scene.
Smith said Pena was driving southbound at an unknown speed in the left lane of Highway 135 north of Union Valley Parkway when his tractor-trailer struck the rear of the Nissan.
Several people were trapped in the other vehicles involved in the crash and had to be extricated by crews from the Santa Barbara County and Santa Maria fire departments, said County Fire spokesman Dave Zaniboni.
The crash tied up southbound traffic on the highway for more than eight hours.
Deputies from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office are assisting in the investigation.