Driver Blamed For Fiery Fatal Chain Reaction Crash On NB 101 Monday Pleads Not Guilty

Wednesday May 17, 2023

(Photo courtesy CHP Ventura)

   Updated-The driver the CHP blames for a fiery fatal crash on the Northbound 101 northwest of Ventura Monday morning has pleaded not guilty and has been released from jail after posting bond.

     The Ventura County DA's Office charged 30-year-old Cody Zornes of Lancaster with one count of Felony Vehicle Manslaughter with Gross Negligence and three counts of Misdemeanor Reckless Driving with Bodily Injury.

     He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

     The crash happened around 9:25 AM Monday May 15th.

     The CHP alleged that Zornes was traveling in a Ford F-550 pickup northbound on the 101 in the left lane at a speeds greater than 65 miles an hour when he rear ended a Toyota Tacoma pickup driven by 50-year-old Jose Zarate of Ventura.

     The CHP says that started a chain reaction crash that involved three other vehicles.

      Zarate's vehicle burst into flames and he was trapped inside.

      He died at the scene.

      Meanwhile Zornes and the other drivers either suffered minor or no injuries.

      The CHP says alcohol and drugs were NOT a factor in the crash.

      The incident either partially or fully shut down NB 101 in that area for most of Monday.