Eleazar Ochoa Rodriguez, a popular vendor known as "Ed the flower guy" at Sacramento County farmers markets, died Sept. 29 in a collision on Highway 49 in Calaveras County. He was 49.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Mr. Rodriguez was driving northbound around 12:30 p.m. near Carol Kennedy Road in San Andreas when a southbound Toyota Tundra pickup crossed the double-yellow line and crashed head-on into his Chevy box truck.
He died at the scene. His 10-year-old daughter, who was identified in local news reports as Stessy, suffered major injuries in the passenger seat and was flown to UC Davis Medical Center.
The Toyota driver, Penny Miles, 52, of Murphys also died at the scene. A CHP statement said her pickup crossed the highway dividing line "possibly due to her intoxication."
The crash happened while Mr. Rodriguez was driving home after selling flowers at the Certified Farmers' Market in Sonora. He reportedly lived on a 6-acre farm in Galt, where he planted, grew and cut flowers year-round to support his wife and five children. He spent long hours packing, traveling and selling blossoms at farmers markets in the Sacramento region.
"He was a hardworking farmer," said coordinator Dan Best of Certified Farmers' Markets of Sacramento County. "He was an integral part of the market."
For eight years, Mr. Rodriguez was the biggest flower vendor at the Sunday farmers market under the freeway at Eighth and W streets in Sacramento. He also worked Saturdays at the light-rail station at Sunrise and Folsom boulevards and Thursdays at the Sears parking lot at Florin Road and 65th Street.
"He had a wonderful collection of fresh-cut flowers and always greeted everyone with a huge smile and kind words," customer Jane Owen said. "If I needed something special, I would tell him a week ahead and he would have it for me."
Arriving before dawn, Mr. Rodriguez unpacked and sold colorful varieties ranging from alstroemeria to zinnias carefully arrayed in 5-gallon buckets. His wife Marisol created arrangements and offered tips on keeping blooms fresh.
"No matter what time of the year even in December and January he would just have beautiful flowers," said David Larzelere of Sacramento. "I'm a gardener, and I don't know how he could do that."
A funeral Mass for Mr. Rodriguez is set for 10 a.m. today at St. Christopher Catholic Church, 950 S. Lincoln Way, Galt.
Donations to help pay for his daughter's medical bills may be made out to Stessy Ochoa and mailed to Wells Fargo Bank, Slatten Ranch Branch, 5859 Lone Tree Way, Suite A, Antioch, CA 94531.
Additional information about Mr. Rodriguez and ways to help his family are available at www.ochoaprayers.com..