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Man arrested for alleged DUI in Hwy. 154 crash is Santa Barbara County Jail employee

A Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office employee was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving following a three-vehicle head-on crash that left seven people injured on Highway 154 on Saturday night.

The wreck was reported about 7:15 p.m. Saturday east of Lake Cachuma, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP said Sunday that 44-year-old Javier Antunez of Goleta was driving an eastbound BMW with one passenger when the vehicle slammed head-on into a westbound Toyota Tacoma driven by Enrique Calderon-Mendez, 43, of Santa Barbara.

The driver of a third vehicle, a 28-year-old Santa Barbara woman at the wheel of a westbound Jeep, could not avoid the wreckage and struck the rear of the Toyota.

Six people were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment of various injuries following the crash, authorities said.

Judith Hall, 43, of Santa Barbara, a passenger in the Toyota, was airlifted by a CalStar medical helicopter to the hospital for treatment of major injuries.

Antunez and his passenger, Esther Emiko Trejo, 48, of Santa Barbara, both suffered major injuries.

Two other passengers in the Toyota, Dolores Gutierrez, 60, and Evelia Dominguez, 48, both of Santa Barbara, suffered moderate injuries. Calderon-Mendez, the driver, received minor injuries.

The Jeep’s driver was evaluated at the scene but did not require additional medical treatment.

The CHP said Antunez was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and causing injuries after a preliminary investigation indicated alcohol was a factor in the crash and officers evaluated him for possible impairment.

A Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office release on Monday confirmed that Antunez is a custody lieutenant assigned to the Main Jail. Antunez was not on duty at the time of the crash, according to the release.

He has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office since 1999.

According to the release, Antunez has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

The collision remains under investigation, and the CHP asked that anyone with information about the wreck contact the Buellton area office at 805-688-5551.

Saturday night’s crash occurred about a half-mile from the scene of a Friday head-on collision that injured three people.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.
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