Collision Injures Congressional Candidate

From Associated Press

A Santa Barbara-area congressional candidate and his wife were hurt in a head-on collision with an alleged drunk driver as they drove home from a news conference, authorities said Friday.

Walter Capps, 62, and his wife, Lois, were struck about 9 p.m. Thursday as they headed home to Santa Barbara on rural California 154, said Kelli Nespor, a California Highway Patrol spokeswoman.

The accident occurred a few miles northwest of the city.

The westbound driver, 52-year-old William Hollifield of Santa Barbara, tried to pass a slow-moving truck hauling a travel trailer but instead hit the truck, lost control and veered into oncoming traffic, Nespor said.

It was unclear how fast the cars were going, but the speed limit is 55 mph. Both cars were totaled, Nespor said.

All three people were wearing seat belts and the Capps' car had air bags. County firefighters had to cut through the top of the car to rescue the couple, Nespor said.

Capps was listed in serious condition Friday in the intensive care unit at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. He had cuts and several broken bones, hospital spokeswoman Janet O'Neill said.

"He's awake, alert, a little grumpy, in a little pain," said Cathy Duvall, field director for Capps' campaign.

Lois Capps, 58, was treated for cuts and bruises and released Friday.

Hollifield was listed in fair condition at the hospital, authorities said. He was arrested for investigation of drunk driving and was to be booked at the County Jail after his release from the hospital, Nespor said.

Capps is a professor of religious studies at UC Santa Barbara.

The Democrat is challenging freshman Republican Andrea Seastrand in the 22nd Congressional District, which covers Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. She defeated him by 1,600 votes in 1994.

Capps held a news conference in Solvang on Thursday to attack Seastrand for voting against a bill to increase the minimum wage. He was on his way home when the crash occurred, Duvall said.

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