Death of several birds in oil spill wreck inspires charges against truck driver

California prosecutors are pressing charges against a trucker who crashed near a river, spilling oil and endangering the health of native wildlife. 

The accident happened on March 21st, 2020, but charges were not pursued until this year. 

According to Cal Coast News, trucker Jesse Villasana was hauling oil along Highway 166 through Santa Barbara County when he “made an unlawful turning movement… at an unsafe speed” and overturned, causing the oil tanker trailer to come loose from the truck and roll into the nearby Cuyama River, spilling 4,533 gallons of crude oil into the river. 

Two birds, a belted kingfisher and a mallard, were killed in the oil spill, inspiring Santa Barbara County prosecutors to file charges for the deaths. These charges include several misdemeanors for violating California Fish and Game Code by releasing oil into a state waterway, and two misdemeanor counts of unlawful taking of a bird, also a violation of the state Fish and Game Code.

Villasana is scheduled for arraignment on June 25th.