A 6-year-old boy died and his 2-year-old brother and his mother, all of Santa Maria, were seriously injured Tuesday night when their pickup lost control and plunged into a ravine on Highway 101 near Gaviota, the Buellton Area Office of the California Highway Patrol said.

It was raining and the roadway was wet as 31-year-old Javier Gonzalez was driving a 2003 Nissan Frontier northbound in the inside lane of Highway 101 just north of the Gaviota tunnel about 7:35 p.m., the CHP report said.

The Frontier lost traction with the roadway and slid out of control to the left, where it went over the side and down into a steep ravine between the north- and southbound lanes, struck a boulder and overturned, landing on its right side, the report said.

A spokesman for Santa Barbara County Fire Department, which responded to the crash, said the pickup landed 25 to 30 feet down on the boulders in the creek, and the occupants required extrication.

The CHP said the 2-year-old sitting on the right side of the rear seat, the 6-year-old sitting on the left side of the rear seat and Sonia Gonzalez, 31, who was sitting between them, were transported to Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital, where the 6-year-old was declared dead on arrival.

The 2-year-old suffered unknown moderate internal injuries, Sonia Gonzalez suffered unknown minor injuries and Javier Gonzalez was uninjured, the CHP report said.

Both northbound lanes of Highway 101 were closed for about five hours as a result of the crash.

Although the cause of the crash is still under investigation, neither drugs nor alcohol played a role in the crash, the CHP said.

However, the CHP is asking anyone with knowledge of the crash to call investigating Officer C. Chapman in the Buellton Area Office at 805-688-5551.


News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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