Former Santa Ynez High School Student Dies Following Highway 1 Crash

A former Santa Ynez High School student has died following last week's deadly car accident on Highway 1 near Lompoc.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Deputies say Ricky Santos, 18, passed away after being in the hospital for nearly a week. Santos was a student at Santa Ynez High School and ran track and field, according to his Facebook.

As of Wednesday evening, Santos' sister is still in the hospital with major injuries.

The crash happened the morning of January 31 on Highway 1 north of Jalama Road. According to the California Highway Patrol, Santos' sister was driving a PT Cruiser when a Honda Civic, driven by Mirella Hernandez, crossed the center line and hit them. Hernandez was pronounced dead the scene, according to CHP.

Investigators believe the slick roads and speed played a factor in the crash.

Santos, a 2013 graduate of Santa Ynez High, was a standout runner on the school’s cross country and track and field teams.

“It’s been rough,” said Brian Wallace, who coached Santos at Santa Ynez and still coaches at the school. “The kids have been really upset. We’ve had a couple of grievance days on campus where the kids can come in and talk to counselors.”

Santa Ynez High will host a celebration of life for Santos on Sunday at

2 p.m. in the school’s on-campus gym.

Santos is the second fatality from the morning accident that occurred on Highway 1 just north of Jalama Road.

Santos was a passenger in a southbound PT Cruiser that morning that was hit head-on when a northbound Honda Civic being driven by 29-year-old Lompoc resident Mirella Hernandez crossed into the southbound lane.

Hernandez died at the scene, while the driver of the PT Cruiser, 25-year-old Karla Santos-Lomeli, who is Ricky’s sister, was taken to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara along with Ricky. Both suffered major injuries.

Among the injuries suffered by Karla Santos-Lomeli, who is still being treated, are a broken right ankle and femur, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Wallace, who watched Ricky Santos grow up as a person and athlete at Santa Ynez, said he was devastated when he heard about the accident. He was coaching the Pirates’ wrestling team at the time and, after hearing about the crash via text message, asked one of his assistants to get confirmation that the Santos involved was “their”


“I couldn’t function,” the coach said. “It was really hard. I couldn’t talk for a while. I was stunned and just sad. It’s a pretty sad deal overall.”

Fundraisers and memorials are reportedly being planned for Santos, though details were unavailable at press time.

Former Santa Ynez High runners visited the Pirates’ practice Thursday to talk to the current athletes and pay their respects. Wallace said the team will meet today to discuss ways to honor their former teammate.

“Running is a really hard sport, so it creates a lot of camaraderie and family,” Wallace said. “Ricky was like that with these guys. It was like he never left.”

Former Santa Ynez High School Student Dies Following Highway 1 Crash