CHP vehicle rams elderly wrong-way driver on Highway 101

January 11, 2024


A CHP officer used a patrol vehicle early Thursday morning to ram the car of an elderly wrong-way driver on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara County. [KSBY]

Shortly after 2 a.m., 911 callers reported a wrong-way driver headed southbound on northbound Highway 101 near El Capitan State Beach west of Goleta. Officers in three CHP units attempted to stop the wrong-way driver by using emergency lights and sirens at two separate locations. The attempts failed.

An officer positioned a fourth CHP vehicle in the northbound lanes of the highway north of Cathedral Oaks. As the elderly driver’s vehicle approached, the CHP officer turned into it, ramming the car. The collision brought the wrong-way driver’s car to a halt.

Officers identified the wrong-way driver as Maria Hernández, 85. Hernandez complained of chest pain following the collision. Responders transported her to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. 

Investigators say neither alcohol, nor drugs factored into Hernandez driving in the wrong direction on Highway 101. No CHP officers suffered injuries during the incident. 

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Drivers should have bi-annual competency tests after age 70.

Good job CHP.

No doubt this CHP decision saved the drivers life.