In the early morning hours of February 24th, 1998, two Santa Maria office California Highway Patrol Officers, Rick Stovall (39) and Britt Irvine (40), died while responding to a report of a washout on State Route 166 approximately 13.5 miles east of US Highway 101 (1.5 miles west of Tepesquet Rd.), northeast of Santa Maria.
Three other vehicles also went into the Cuyama River after it washed away about 300 feet of the road. They plunged off a 20 foot drop-off into the raging water. Two drivers were rescued by helicopter, and have recovered. One driver, whose pickup was recovered, is still missing. Although numerous agencies participated in searches with vehicles, aircraft, boats, and search dogs, Michael Tye has yet to be found.
The California Legislature passed Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 79, declaring State Route 166 (from US Highway 101 to State Route 33) as CHP Officers Irvine and Stovall Memorial Highway.
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