Crime - Sacto 911

A wrong way driver killed her sister and friends. The next day, she disappeared

Karen Garcia as a bridesmaid for Linda Quintero’s wedding in May 2017. Garcia hasn’t been heard from since Monday, Jan. 8, 2018.
Karen Garcia as a bridesmaid for Linda Quintero’s wedding in May 2017. Garcia hasn’t been heard from since Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. Courtesy of Linda Quintero

A family in Williams is missing two daughters after one was killed in a car crash Sunday and her sister vanished the following day.

Karen Garcia, 21, was last seen in Colusa around noon Monday. She planned to go shopping in Roseville or Vacaville later that day, according to multiple witnesses and was wearing a black long-sleeve dress and a white North Face jacket when she left her apartment. She drives a blue Honda Accord with California license plate 6ZHB954.

Garcia’s 19-year-old sister Jessica, Jessica’s boyfriend and three other friends were driving back from a Denny’s in Woodland on Sunday night when their car was struck by a driver headed the wrong way down Interstate 5. All six people involved in the crash died at the scene.

Linda Quintero saw Garcia nearly every day, she said. If they weren’t working together at Granzella’s, a deli in Colusa, they met up at the four-unit apartment complex they shared. When Quintero got married to her husband Johnnie last May, Garcia was by her side in a bridesmaid’s gown.

Garcia was the one who told her mother about Jessica’s death, Quintero said, and had struggled with the emotional weight of losing her sister. In the day-and-a-half after Jessica’s passing, Karen had worried about finding a burial plot for her sister and made tentative plans to move home to Williams, Quintero said.

Quintero texted Garcia around 5 p.m. to ask if she needed anything from Yuba City. No, Garcia replied, she was shopping alone in Roseville.

“She said, ‘I need some time alone to keep busy, to clear my head,’ ” Quintero said. “After the accident, she was super distraught, super stressed out.”

When Garcia didn’t show up to Jessica’s 8 p.m. vigil, one of Garcia’s relatives called Quintero asking where she might be. That’s when Quintero remembered Karen left a purse back at the upstairs apartment she shared with Johnnie. Inside, Quintero found cash, a driver’s license and Garcia’s lone bank card.

A friend attempted to electronically locate Garcia’s phone on Tuesday, according to a press release from the Williams Police Department. The friend told police the phone appeared to be in Marysville. Williams police asked the Marysville Police Department to look for Garcia and her car, but they didn’t find her.

She is identified as Karen Garcia Romero in the press release, but friends, fliers about her disappearance and her Facebook profile use the name Karen Garcia.

She also didn’t show up for a scheduled work shift Tuesday, said Salvador Garcia, the father of Karen Garcia’s child.

“That’s not like her ... she never misses work,” he said. Their daughter, Avianna Garcia, is 2.

“She doesn’t know what’s going on,” Garcia said. “We just keep her playing with other cousins and stuff.”

Everyone in the small Williams community knows each other and everyone is worried about Karen, he said. His mother and aunt were looking for her car in Roseville and Vacaville on Thursday, where she was supposed to be shopping. Other family and friends are putting up fliers.

Search parties have scoured Roseville, Vacaville and Marysville for Garcia. Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call the Williams Police Department at 530-473-2661.

A GoFundMe page to benefit the Garcias and families of the four others in the car with Jessica – Cristian Lopez, Raquel Lopez, Yaneth Lopez and Kristian Paiz – had raised more than $20,000 as of Thursday.

Benjy Egel: 916-321-1052, @BenjyEgel

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