Central Coast news roundup

By El Latino Newsroom

José Fermín López Jr, 24, has been charge with multiple felony charges for an accident he was involved in Santa Barbara last Sunday that left one a retired UCSB administrator dead, authorities informed this week.

The day of the incident at around 8:20 p.m. the Santa Barbara Police Department (SBPD) received numerous reports of a serious traffic collision that had just occurred in the area of West Carrillo Street and Miramonte Drive. 

As a result, Lopez Jr. is being charged with felony DUI Causing Death and felony Vehicular Manslaughter. 

Callers stated that night that two vehicles had been involved in a head-on collision and it appeared both drivers sustained extensive injuries from the crash.

Multiple officers, firefighters, and paramedics responded to the collision. Upon arrival, officers located a chaotic scene. 

The initial investigation showed two vehicles had collided head-on, and the only occupants in each of the vehicles were the drivers. 

Both the drivers needed to be extricated by the SB City Fire Department and both were transported by ambulance to Cottage Hospital Emergency Room for medical treatment.

According to the detectives, it appears a red Nissan sedan, driven by Lopez Jr., who is from Santa Barbara, was traveling west on West Carrillo Street at a high rate of speed and without headlights on. 

Also the SBPD stated that believed Lopez’s vehicle drifted into the lane of oncoming traffic and collided head-on with an older model Mercedes sedan which was driving east on West Carrillo Street at that time. 

The driver of the Mercedes was treated at the hospital but tragically succumbed to injuries sustained in the collision and was pronounced dead several hours after the collision occurred. 

Officers believed Lopez was under the influence of alcohol and a DUI investigation was completed.  

Search and arrest warrants were approved by a SB Superior Court Judge and Lopez was placed under arrest. 

He is suspected of being at fault for the collision.

Once released from the hospital, Lopez Jr. will be booked in the County’s Jail. 

The SBPD revealed the case is currently under investigation.


Last week the Ventura County Department of Public Health (VCDPH) announced the Pfizer Bio-NTech vaccine was approved for 5- to 11-year-olds. 

“This is another important step forward as we continue getting things back to normal in our schools. The state mandate for students to be vaccinated to attend school isn’t yet in effect, but it’s never too early to take advantage of the protection offered by the vaccine for everyone who is eligible to receive it,” said Dr. César Morales, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools. 

The California Department of Public Health’s vaccine appointment system, www.MyTurn.CA.gov, shows the VCDPH’s schedule and locations of vaccination centers for this age group. 

Health authorities encourage families to contact their medical provider for information about the vaccine. 

“I welcome the authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control of the COVID-19 vaccine for children. This will protect our children and get us closer to our goal of herd immunity,” said Public Health Officer Doctor Robert Levin.  

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for children and adolescents ages 5 and up, as a 2-dose series taken 3 weeks apart. 

Dr. Levine, revealed that the dose for children age 5-11 is one-third of the dosage of the vaccine for older adolescents and adults. 

It is estimated that there are 72,000 children in this age range in Ventura County.  

While children and adolescents are typically at lower risk than adults of becoming severely ill or hospitalized from COVID-19, it is still possible. 8,850 5- to 11-year-olds have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ventura County.    

The VCDPH stated the vaccine is safe and effective. 

“Before being authorized for children, scientists and medical experts completed their review of safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials of thousands of children. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was rigorously tested and reviewed, and over 11 million adolescents ages 12-17 have already safely received the COVID-19 vaccine,” the VCDPH said.


The Santa Barbara Clean Energy (SBCE), is sharing a recent announcement made by 

Southern California Edison, which announced that starting on October 1st it has raised its electricity delivery rates by an average of $0.02/kWh. 

“This rate increase will equate to roughly $10 per month for the average customer and will affect both Santa Barbara Clean Energy and Edison customers. Edison’s rate increase is tied to the delivery of electricity to all customers in Santa Barbara (and the entire Edison service area) and is based on the increasing costs of updating poles, wires, and other infrastructure”.

“Edison’s rate increase is specifically related to the infrastructure needed to deliver power to homes and businesses,” shares Alelia Parenteau, acting sustainability and resilience co-director. 

Parenteau stated the energy company had to increase rates dramatically in recent years due to heavy investment in infrastructure to prevent wildfires and modernize their grid. 

“Most Santa Barbarans have seen Edison crews working on power poles and wires in their neighborhoods,” Parenteau said.

SBCE provides customers with green energy, and Edison delivers the electricity, which is shown on every electricity bill under procurement and delivery rates. 

The local energy entity also announced its procurement rates are staying the same. 

Edison’s delivery rate will show the increase of $0.02/kWh on customers’ November statements reflecting October electricity use.

SBCE mission is to offer customers green energy options with continued reliable electric service to achieve our community’s ambitious climate goals. 

“This is particularly important because local electricity use accounts for over 20% of Santa Barbara’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions”, said Parenteau.


The Santa Barbara County Human Trafficking Task Force conducted a human trafficking sting operation last week focusing on rescuing victims of human trafficking, identifying and arresting their traffickers, disrupting the demand for vulnerable victims, and connecting victims of human trafficking with victim resources.

The SBCSO stated that during the operation, a total of three women engaged in the sales of sex acts were contacted and four sex buyers were arrested. 

The names of the arrestees are not available for release due to ongoing investigations.

The SBCSO’s Human Trafficking Task Force was established in 2016 with a $1.34 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. 

The grant was renewed in 2020 with an additional $1.2 million in funding for three years. 

Also, the Task Force also reminds survivors of human trafficking that they can also find support services through their community partner, Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA). 

Services offered by STESA include a confidential 24-Hour hotline, legal and medical advocacy and accompaniment, and counseling. You can reach a STESA advocate at any time by calling, 805.564.3696.

If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, please call the Sheriff’s Office Anonymous Tip line at, 805.681.4171.

Sheriff’s detectives coordinate closely with the SB County District Attorney, Victim-Witness Program to ensure the needs of survivors are not overshadowed by the focus on the investigation and prosecution of the accused. 

“Victim Advocates are available to ensure that survivors are kept informed and supported throughout the criminal justice process,” said the authorities.

Survivors have the option of contacting the Victim-Witness Assistance Program directly at 805-568-2400 or toll free at, 855-840-3232.