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‘Part of the military family’: Vandenberg crew remembers two men killed in Orcutt crash

Jesse Gluyas, left, and Rick Motley died Thursday in a crash on Highway 135.
Jesse Gluyas, left, and Rick Motley died Thursday in a crash on Highway 135.

A tight-knit crew of VTC Enterprises grounds workers at Vandenberg Air Force Base are among those in mourning after two men died Thursday in a crash on Highway 135.

Rickie “Rick” Motley, 60, and Jesse Gluyas, 24, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on Highway 135 north of Union Valley Parkway in Orcutt. The driver of a big-rig truck is under arrest and is accused of failing to stop for a red light and slamming into a vehicle driven by Motley.

In all, six vehicles were involved in the collision, with other people receiving minor to no injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Once the crash investigation is complete in the coming weeks, CHP will send the report to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office for review.

The CHP report is expected to recommend that truck driver Gilbert Pena, 56, of Santa Maria be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, according to CHP officer Ben Smith.

While Gluyas worked for VTC Enterprises for 90 days, Motley, an Orcutt resident, had been an employee for nearly seven years, according to Tanya Astrosky, VTC’s chief operating officer. Authorities said Gluyas lived in Solvang but reportedly had recently moved to Santa Maria.

Astrosky traveled to the base to talk to the men’s co-workers Thursday after the crash.

“I think the thing that struck me the most, hearing the words from the crew, was that both Rick and Jesse were known for their positive attitudes,” she said.

Because Motley had worked for VTC longer, she had more interaction with him.

“He always had a smile on his face,” Astrosky said. “He was that one person in the crowd that when he saw you, he would give you a smile — a wonderfully warmhearted man.”

Motley’s co-workers also noted his dependability and reputation of being a hard worker.

“With Jesse, the thing that really struck me is they were talking about what a great attitude he had and how much he enjoyed working outdoors and working on that contract,” she said.

Gluyas was eager to learn new tasks, according to his co-workers.

“He had just learned a new piece of equipment before he died, and he was excited about the fact that it was easier than what he thought it was going to be, was one story they told me yesterday,” Astrosky said Friday.

His co-workers said Gluyas carefully listened to instructions.

“He was always just wanting to do it right,” Astrosky added.

On Thursday afternoon, two top Vandenberg representatives and a chaplain also met with the workers on the tight-knit crew that had 10 members.

“I really feel like they embraced the contract workers and were expressing how they are part of the military family,” Astrosky said. “That went a long way to helping their pain.”

Funeral services for both men were pending Friday.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.
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