Crime - Sacto 911

Coroner identifies all four killed in wrong-way Highway 50 crash

The shattered Prius driven by a wrong-way driver blocks lanes on Highway 50 at the scene of the fatal crash Wednesday.
The shattered Prius driven by a wrong-way driver blocks lanes on Highway 50 at the scene of the fatal crash Wednesday. rpench@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County Coroner’s Offfice has identified all four people killed in a head-on crash involving a wrong-way driver earlier this week.

The woman who killed herself and three others when the Prius she was driving the wrong way on Highway 50 early Wednesday crashed head-on into a pickup truck has been identified as 19-year-old Elizabet Torres-Zela.

The men in the pickup have been identified as Pepito Rivera, 81, and Nick Bacareza, 74, and Tony Kilayko, 76, all of Stockton.

Few questions have been answered about why Torres-Zela had been going the wrong way in the westbound fast lane of Highway 50 about 2:30 a.m. Wedneday.

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Torres-Zela had a valid driver’s license and no prior violations. Relatives, still grieving Thursday, declined to talk to The Bee. Her father’s Carmichael landlord, Tina Licastro, described her as a respectful and responsible young woman.

But before the sun rose Wednesday morning, Torres-Zela was seen by witnesses heading east in the fast lane on the westbound side of the highway.

California Highway Patrol officers readying themselves to intercept the wrong-way driver saw the collision from the other side of the road – the Toyota Prius hit the pickup, a blue Ford F-150 carrying three men headed back to Stockton, and sent it careening into the path of a Hyundai Sonata. After the second car hit the pickup, CHP officials said, the truck burst into flames.

At least two of the men inside were badly burned. All three were declared dead at the scene by medical personnel.

Grace Bacareza of Stockton said Wednesday that her husband, Nick Bacareza, died as he was heading home his two friends.

The Sacramento Coroner’s Office declared the time of death for Torres-Zela and the three men as 2:29 a.m. Wednesday.

The Coroner’s Office will determine whether alcohol, or any other substance, was a factor in the crash.

CHP Officer Michael Bradley said Wednesday that wrong-way drivers are usually impaired.

“The most common reason is they’re drunk or intoxicated or have some kind of impairment,” he said. “They get on the freeway and know they have some kind of impairment and don’t want to be detected, so they go to what they think is the slow lane.”

On Jan. 10, a similar crash on Interstate 80 killed three young people from Placer County and injured Aaron Jordon Caudillo, whom prosecutors have accused of speeding, drunkenly, the wrong way on the highway with an open bottle of rum in his lap.

Call Marissa Lang at (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter at @Marissa_Jae. The Bee’s Kevin Yamamura and Pete Basofin contributed to this report.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments