A mother and daughter have died after their car plunged into the edge of a scenic coastal lookout in northern California over the weekend, falling 30 meters as nearly a dozen spectators watched. the authorities announced on Monday.
California Highway Patrol spokesman David deRutte said it was not clear why Maria Teixeira, 64, continued to drive after hitting a barrier in a parking lot at the start of a trail in Bodega Bay, about 70 miles north of San Francisco.
Teixeira’s daughter Elizabeth Correia, 41, has been identified as the passenger in the crash which happened around 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.
DeRutte said their Toyota SUV entered the large gravel lot with no parking spaces and “was driving at normal speed. He was rolling towards the cliff and didn’t stop. There was no acceleration or braking. “
Photos from the scene showed the SUV on its roof on the rocks below. Between eight and 10 witnesses saw the fatal dive, deRutte said.
Authorities are trying to piece together what happened, he said. A vehicle inspection is due and an autopsy will determine whether Teixeira was suffering from a health problem at the time of the crash, deRutte said.
The mother and daughter were from Pleasanton, a suburb on the San Francisco Bay Area. The San Jose Mercury News reported that both worked at elementary schools in the area – Correia as a first-grade teacher and Teixeira as a primary caretaker.
Tracie Culpepper, another first grade teacher, described Correia as a compassionate, dedicated and natural teacher.
“She was my person and I was hers,” Culpepper told the newspaper. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without her.
In a letter on Monday, the principal of the school where Teixeira worked, Montevideo Elementary, called her “a member of our community,” Mercury News reported.
“She could be found on our campus everyday doing whatever needed to be done to serve the community. Wherever there were people, wherever there was activity, wherever there was someone who needed help, Mrs. Maria was there and willing to help.