An Arbuckle mother and her two teenage daughters were identified Monday by the Yolo County Coroner’s Office as victims in a Saturday night freeway collision that occurred when a wrong-way driver crashed head-on into their car.
Sofia Ramirez, 38, and daughters Alyssa Santiago, 17, and Brenda Santiago, 15, died about 10:20 p.m. Saturday in the crash on Interstate 505 near Highway 16 in Yolo County. A fourth person in the vehicle also was injured.
The Coroner’s Office earlier Monday identified the wrong-way driver as 36-year-old Francisco Salazar Garcia, whose last known address was Antioch. The investigation into the collision will attempt to discover exactly where Garcia got on the highway and why he was driving the wrong way.
Gina Moya, chief deputy county coroner, said Monday that it had not been determined whether alcohol or drugs were factors in the collision. She said authorities are awaiting the results of toxicology tests.
Garcia was in a Honda Accord going south in the northbound fast lane of the freeway when he crashed head-on into the Toyota Camry driven by Ramirez.
A gofundme account posting that identified Ramirez and her daughters said the three were returning to their Colusa County home, along with Joaquin Sanchez, after a visit Saturday with relatives in the Bay Area.
There will be no prosecution in the case because the suspect is dead, but that will not stop California Highway Patrol officers from conducting an investigation.
“We do the investigation because the family deserves it,” said CHP public information officer Pedro Leon. “They deserve to find out what happened.”
CHP Officer Joel Merrill was an eyewitness to the collision. Merrill was driving north on I-505 when he spotted the southbound vehicle coming toward him at speeds exceeding 85 mph, according to a CHP news release.
“The car sped right past him,” said Leon.
Merrill made a U-turn in the center divide but was unable to overtake the wrong-way vehicle before it crashed into the northbound vehicle carrying Ramirez, her daughters and Sanchez. The officer pulled in behind the southbound vehicle and determined that Garcia, Ramirez and the teens had died.
The fourth person in the Camry, Sanchez, was transported to the hospital. The gofundme posting indicated he had minor injuries.
The crash is the second in recent weeks in which a wrong-way highway crash killed four people. A driver traveling the wrong way on Highway 50 in the early morning hours of April 22 slammed into a pickup with three men.
The collision killed 19-year-old Elizabet Torres-Zela, identified by the CHP as the wrong-way driver. The men in the pickup were identified as Pepito Rivera, 81, Nick Bacareza, 74, and Tony Kilayko, 76, all of Stockton.
Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079. Bee researcher Pete Basofin contributed to this report.