Truck driver charged with the death of a bird following oil spill

March 24, 2021

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

Santa Barbara County prosecutors have filed charges against the truck driver who crashed on Highway 166 a year ago, spilling more than 4,500 gallons of oil into the Cuyama River.

Shortly after 6 a.m. on March 21, 2020, Jesse Villasana was driving a tanker with approximately 6,678 gallons of crude oil about 20 miles east of Santa Maria. While driving at an unsafe speed, Villasana made an unlawful turning movement, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

The speed and unsafe turning movement caused the oil tank to roll off Villasana’s truck and into the Cuyama River, prosecutors allege. The crash spilled 4,533 gallons of crude oil into the Cuyama River.

At least two birds, a belted kingfisher and a mallard, died as a result of the oil spill, according to the district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors charged Villasana with a misdemeanors for violating California Fish and Game Code by releasing oil into a state waterway. Additionally, prosecutors charged Villasana with two misdemeanor counts of unlawful taking of a bird, also a violation of the state Fish and Game Code.

Villasana’s arraignment is scheduled for June 25 in Santa Maria.


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Slosum

Seems like another reason to have a pipeline.


commonsenseguy

Who’s to say the birds didn’t actually die from COVID-19 while being affected by the oil spill. Sounds possible with todays thinking. Better get Fauci on this.


Cmonnow

Oh the humanity… I can understand a reckless driving charge and a fine. But the whole “charged with the death of two birds…” Seriously? Reminds me of when my kids and I were parked by moonstone beach eating lunch several years ago. A small piece of lettuce fell on the ground and of course a waiting gull snagged it. I kid you not, a johnny-on-the-spot state park officer quickly arrived and proceeded to tell us in no uncertain terms that feeding the wildlife was against the law. It was the whole attitude that cracked me up. No just checking to make sure, no smile, just snug up that service belt and deal with these law breakers. Common sense left California in a U haul a long time ago.


LameCommenter

“no smile, just snug up that service belt and deal with these law breakers.” That’s pretty harsh, Cmonnow, but you nailed it. Rangers used to be friendly in assisting in the management and take of wildlife resources, but now it seems more of a LE attitude. It’s the accuracy of your observation that stings a Californian a bit.


Cmonnow

Its not harsh… And we weren’t upset… But his seriousness and his approach was just too much. It was actually humorous.


cooperdog

It’d be nice if F&G would get the homeless out of the river beds. Talk about pollution – urinating, defecating, and fornicating in many cities water supplies.


Wait. They can’t get any money from this group. Now I understand.


coyote

I wrote a letter to DFW , complete with pictures of what the house challenged folks have done to Atascadero Creek. I received a reply a couple of weeks later advising me that they didn’t have the resources to take care of that issue. They always have the resources when it ‘s time to harass someone that they can get money out of though.


JThomas

What a bunch of BS! A bird flew into the front of my truck last week, please dont tell anyone…… mums the word!


Francesca Bolognini

How about the fact that the guy was driving recklessly and caused a large habitat destruction? There is no way to count all the life he actually destroyed in that ecosystem. But it would seem that if his unsafe operation of a vehicle caused this mess, he should be charged for that. It might not seem like much to those who have no environmental concerns, but if you were depending on that sanctuary for your life or at least your source of water, it is a big deal.


IDBOUND

So when an airplane engine shreds a bird or one hits an windshield/grill of any vehicle the operator is charged or a large wind generator turbine ,,,where does it end


Jorge Estrada

The Fish and Wildlife are nothing less than the notorious ambulance chasers in this case. They smell deep pockets so they pick this battle, another revenue gathering fiefdom. Now really, do you believe they are a benevolent organization? Consider the financial harvest in fees to shoot what they deem needs to be $permitted$, wild pigs?, give me a break!. We now have a problem with these varmints because they’re now included into their hunting business. What about the fisheries, very important in or near a coastal city, where there are pockets to reach into. The inland streams continue to get screwed out of their fisheries and riparian habitats because costal towns want that water anyway. I’ll be very clear, it is the government revenue streams that this agency protects, not the wildlife. Sure they are cops too and that is not a bad thing but sadly it is apparent to ME that they are focused on protecting their hunting revenue and their entitlement to pick and choose what and where a jurisdictional enforcement will happen. This is a, at the top, leadership problem, not of them in the field.