St. Helena-based chef Cindy Pawlcyn was among those injured in a head-on collision on highway 12/121 west of Napa on Sunday afternoon. The crash also took the life of a 4-year-old boy.
As the Napa Valley Register reports, the boy and his mother were passengers in a Chevy SUV whose driver, 23-year-old Flavio Castellanos of Napa, swerved into on-coming traffic on the two-lane road.
Pawlcyn's husband, John Watanabe, was driving his Lexus RX 450 and swerved to avoid the SUV, but both ended up colliding "almost front license plate to front license plate," as a CHP officer reported. "It was about as head-on as you can get," he said, and you can see that from KTVU's footage from the scene.
The mother of the boy was severely injured and airlifted to Santa Rosa, while Pawlcyn and her husband suffered minor to moderate injuries and were taken to Queen of the Valley Medical Center. The boy, who was in a carseat at the time of the crash, was airlifted to the same medical center, but later succumbed to injuries.
Pawlcyn first made a name for herself as opening chef at Fog City Diner in the 1980s. She went on to open Mustard's Grill in St. Helena, as well as Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen.