$4.8 Million Dollar Settlement Reached after Crash Caused by Wrong Way Driver on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara County that Killed Two People
Santa Barbara County and the Sheriff's Department have agreed to pay a $4.8 million dollar settlement to the family of a man who was one of two people killed in a crash on Highway 101 near Goleta involving a wrong way driver.
18 year old Marcos Arredondo and Macrina Ocampo were both killed in November of 2009 after the vehicle driven by Arredondo with his two sisters inside was struck head on by another vehicle driven by then 20 year old Richard Rodriguez on the highway south of Storke Road. Attorney Barry Cappello, representing Marcos' father Jose Arredondo, tells KCOY CBS 12 and the Information Station that Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy Rogers respoded to the incident, forcing Arredondo into the path of the wrong way driver. Cappello said the whole accident was caught on a camera mounted in the Deputy's patrol vehicle.
Rodriguez was later convicted of driving under the influence and going the wrong way on a freeway and was sentenced to 13 years in prison He was also ordered to pay restitution to the victim's family.
Sheriff Bill Brown responded to the press release from Cappello in a statement released by the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office. The statement released says "While Sheriff Brown recognizes that this was an extraordinarily tragic event, and has extended condolences to the Arredondo Family on behalf of all the men and women of the Sheriff's Office, he strongly disagrees with the press release issued by Mr. Capello."
Sherriff Brown says "While Mr. Cappello blames this tragedy on the County and a Sheriff's deputy, the real cause of this heartbreaking criminal event was Richard Rodriguez, whose reckless behavior in using illegal drugs, drinking alcohol to excess and then driving the wrong way on the freeway is the real cause of this tragedy."
"The reason the County and the Sheriff's Office were named in this lawsuit is that the county has the deep pockets and the drunk driver had no assets."
The statement also indicated that "Sheriff Brown emphasized that, contrary to Capello's biased press release, the deputy did not violate department policy. Furthermore, the settlement in this case does not admit any wrongdoing or liability on the part of the Sheriff's Office or the County."
Sheriff Brown says "The shame of Mr. Capello's press release is that it places blame on the actions of a sheriff's deputy who was attempting to protect the public instead of where it truly belongs - on a convicted felon who was so irresponsibly drunk that night that he thought he was in Orange County at the time of the crash."