Investigators are still trying to determine if a fatal crash involving a mother and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area was accidental or intentional after their vehicle was seen by dozens of spectators driving through a parking lot without braking before they crashed down the side of a cliff at a popular Northern California coast lookout over the weekend.
Speaking to media on Monday, California Highway Patrol Officer David de Rutte said the cause of the crash that happened Saturday morning at Bodega Bay’s Head Trail was still under investigation. It is unclear why Maria Teixeira, 64, continued to drive her Toyota SUV through a wooden barrier in a large parking lot by the path before crashing down the side of the cliff.
“Witnesses saw the vehicle drive through the parking lot ̵
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The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office identified a woman in the passenger seat as Teixeira’s daughter, 41-year-old Elizabeth Correia.
Both women were found dead when rescuers came down the side of the cliff and reached the vehicle, which landed on the roof of the cliffs about 100 feet below, Bodega Bay Fire Protection District said. Dozens of people witnessed the crash as beachgoers and hikers had flocked to the scenic Pacific Ocean overlooking enjoying clear weather during the Easter holidays.
De Rutte said a vehicle inspection would be conducted and that an autopsy would be conducted to determine if Teixeira was experiencing a medical condition at the time of the incident.
The mother and daughter lived in the city of San Francisco Bay Area, Dublin, about 100 miles south of the crash site. Both were employees of public schools in the Bay Area, Mercury News reported, referring to relatives and sheriff’s officials. Teixeira was a leading parent at Montevideo Elementary in nearby San Ramon, and Correia was a first-grade teacher at Lydiksen Elementary in Pleasanton.
Teixeira “was just a warm, good person, she was so smiley and happy. She helped everyone,” Erin Aitken, a teacher and former colleague of the newspaper, said, remembering how proud Teixeira was when her daughter became a teacher. “She was a great cheerleader for her kids. And she clearly loved being around kids.”
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Correia’s bio on the school’s website said she has been teaching in Pleasanton, where she grew up, since 2005.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is handling the death investigation, which is expected to take between two and three months and will include conducting autopsies, spokeswoman Misti Wood told Fox News when it was reached by phone Tuesday. The California Highway Patrol is handling the crash site investigation and will determine if it was intentional or unintentional, she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.