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SANTA BARBARA, CA – Three people were killed Tuesday morning, August 24, when an out of control semi tractor trailer truck crashed into their home in Santa Barbara County, California. The trailer truck accident occurred just off California State Highway 154 at the San Marcos Pass, near the city of Santa Barbara. The accident area is in the southwest section of the state near the Pacific Ocean, about 75 miles north of Los Angeles and about 244 miles south of Fresno.

Fire and rescue crews survey the crash scene, where a fully loaded gravel truck careened off a highway Tuesday and crushed a house in Santa Barbara, killing a man, woman and child. (Photo credit: Santa Barbara County Fire)

Shortly before 7:00 a.m. Tuesday morning 51 year old truck driver Joaquin Garcia Morales of Oxnard, CA was driving a semi tractor truck loaded with a cargo of gravel south on California State Highway 154. Mr. Morales owned the semi truck and had leased the two trailers he was hauling. He had just picked up his load at a quarry near Santa Ynez. Mr. Morales was headed for a construction site in Santa Paula and reportedly decided to take CA 154 instead of U.S. 101.

According to police, right after the truck driver left Santa Ynez he stopped to check the semi truck’s brakes which did not seem to be working correctly. After doing some repairs on the trailer truck’s brakes, which he believed corrected the problem, the truck driver started back towards his destination.

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As Mr. Morales came down the highway in the area known as the San Marcos Pass he lost control of his 18 wheeler, possibly because of his brakes. According to witnesses, smoke was coming out of the back of the truck.

The semi was doing about 50 MPH as it approached the intersection with State Street, and the truck driver was making attempts to get the 18 wheeler under control. He downshifted and applied the hand brake but these actions did not slow the runaway trailer truck.

The bed of the truck rests on the remains of a home destroyed when its driver crashed into it Tuesday morning. Three people were killed.

When he reached State Street he pulled the trailer truck to the right and into a parking lot that separated the Hope Ranch Inn and a strip mall. He slammed into two parked cars before crashing into the family home.

The force of the truck accident demolished the home and it collapsed on top the three occupants, a couple and their 7 year old son. Neighbors heard the sound and rushed to the scene. They attempted to dig through the wreckage of the wooded home and chunks of gravel, hoping to reach the family.

Emergency rescue teams were soon at the site of the truck accident and began digging through the rubble. Unfortunately the family of three was buried under the debris of the house and the cargo of gravel which spilled from the trailer of the semi. They were later pronounced dead at the scene.

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The driver, Mr. Morales, received a minor cut to his face in the truck accident and reported back pain.

It will likely take several days for crews to clear up the wreckage of the destroyed family home.

Investigators were conducting a reconstruction of the truck accident to determine the cause. Although the trailer truck was experiencing brake problems earlier in the morning authorities have not confirmed that brake failure is the reason the trailer truck went out of control. They do not suspect drugs or alcohol as factors in the deadly crash.

No charges have been brought against the driver and the truck accident remains under investigation.

The investigation is expected to last about a month.


For more information about California trucking laws, truck injury causes and victims rights, contact a nationwide truck accident attorney at Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP for expert advice. For a free initial consultation, talk to a CA truck accident lawyer at 800.773.6770.

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