Santa Paula Times

CHP: Investigation continuing into fatal Hwy 126 collision

September 16, 2011
Santa Paula News

The California Highway Patrol released more details on the Sunday accident on Highway 126 that left a 15-year-old Bakersfield girl dead after a head-on collision.

CHP Officer Steve Reid said the crash occurred September 11 at about 7:05 p.m. on the highway east of Toland Road.

Leopoldo Puentes Ruiz, 17 of Bakersfield, was driving a 2006 Dodge Magnum eastbound on the highway in the #1 lane with his sister, Maria Guadalupe Puentes Ruiz, who was in the right front seat of the vehicle. “Ruiz and his sister were on their way back to Bakersfield after visiting family in the Oxnard area,” noted Reid.

As Ruiz was traveling eastbound, his vehicle drifted left and across a left turn lane into the westbound #1 lane directly into the path of a 2005 Chevrolet truck driven by Rocky Edwards, 53 of Exeter. Reid said Edwards saw Ruiz’s vehicle “headed directly at him and steered to the left to avoid a collision,” but was unable to avoid the other vehicle and the two collided in the westbound #1 lane. 

Edwards’ truck was “loaded with welding equipment and materials which were thrown out of his vehicle as it spun out across the roadway into the eastbound lanes after the collision.” The spilled items from Edward’s spinning vehicle “caused a massive debris field across all lanes” of the highway before the truck came to rest facing eastbound straddling the two lanes. 

After colliding with Edwards’ vehicle, Ruiz’s Magnum spun out across the westbound lanes, ran off the roadway and struck a guardrail. 

Jorge Arroyo, 22 of Piru, was driving a 2008 Audi A4 eastbound on SR-126 in the #2 lane behind Ruiz’s vehicle prior to the collision. His vehicle was struck and damaged by flying debris from the collision, but he was not injured.  

Maria Ruiz was pronounced deceased at the scene by fire department personnel. Leopoldo Ruiz and Edwards were transported by ambulance to the Ventura County Medical Center, where they were treated for non life-threatening injuries.

Reid said westbound lanes on Highway 126 were closed for about five hours due to the collision and eastbound traffic diverted onto an adjacent dirt road. The roadway was completely reopened at 12:08 a.m. 

Drugs and alcohol were not a factor in the crash. The collision is still under investigation, and Reid asks anyone who witnessed or has information regarding the collision to contact the Ventura CHP office at (805) 477-4100.