A Santa Barbara teenager is dead following a head-on crash Wednesday night that shut down the northbound lanes of Highway 101 near Carpinteria for several hours.
The California Highway Patrol says 16-year-old Daniel Perez entered the highway going the wrong way, using the Lake Casitas off-ramp as an on-ramp. His car flipped onto its roof after colliding with a semi-truck in the slow lane.
The driver of that truck was not injured.
Perez was just starting his junior year at San Marcos High School and, according to teachers, was a good student with a strong GPA.
“I can still see Dan laughing at one my corny jokes from the back corner of my class," said Chemistry Teacher Kimberly Tilton in a written statement. "It's hard to accept that I won't be celebrating his walk across the graduation stage. He was a truly exceptional young man and had all the potential to become a scientist."
Baseball Coach Sergio Castallanos said Perez was always upbeat and positive, a boy who got along with all of his teammates.
“Danny Perez was an awesome individual," said Castallanos. "From a coaches point of view he was willing to do whatever it took to help his team. When other players were injured he was pivotal in playing four different positions: left field, center field, third base, and shortstop. He did an exceptional job."
The CHP says its investigation is ongoing. Officers have yet to be determine whether alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.