At approximately 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 28, Grover Beach resident Bryon Tatum, 52, was removing a flag from the rear of his vehicle parked on the sand of the Oceano Dunes when he was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle.
According to Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area District Superintendant Brent Marshall, Tatum was pinned between the two cars and succumbed to his injuries shortly after authorities arrived on the scene. Tatum’s wife was in the passenger seat at the time, but she wasn’t injured in the crash.
- FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E MILLER
- FATAL CRASH: The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area draws a lot of traffic—as indicated in this file photo—but the region’s popularity can lead to problems. Two vehicles collided in the area at dusk on Dec. 28, and Grover Beach resident Bryon Tatum, 52, was killed in the crash. A law enforcement investigation into the incident is ongoing.
“It’s just a really unfortunate incident, but there were a lot of vehicles moving around as daylight was fading,” Marshall told New Times. “We are increasing patrols and will have 24-hour coverage on the dunes over the New Year’s holiday; we’re trying to prevent anything like this from happening again.”
Marshall added that there’s no indication thus far that alcohol or excessive speed were involved in the incident, and he said that both California State Parks and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s-Coroner Office are involved in the ongoing investigation.
According to authorities, the vehicle that hit Tatum was driven by an employee of Luv 2 Camp, an Oceano Dunes concessionaire that rents out trailers to campers on the dunes. That employee’s name was still being withheld as of press time.
“The driver of the oncoming vehicle had just dropped a trailer off on the beach, and he was heading back when he collided with the stationary vehicle,” Marshall said.
State Parks is currently collecting statements, examining phone records, performing vehicle inspections, and interviewing witnesses.
According to Marshall, it’s too soon to say whether law enforcement will decide to pursue any criminal charges, and the investigation into the crash is expected to take four to six weeks.