A bizarre incident happened in front of multiple onlookers at a popular vista point in Bodega Bay on Saturday, and it ended the lives of a 41-year-old teacher from the East Bay and her 64-year-old mother.
The two women were in a vehicle that plunged off a cliff and landed upside down on some rocks below, and the circumstances of the incident remain under investigation.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office on Monday identified the victims as 41-year-old Elizabeth Correia, a Dublin resident and first-grade teacher at Lydiksen Elementary School in Pleasanton for the last 16 years, and her mother, 64-year-old Maria Teixeira. Teixeira worked as lead custodian at Montevideo Elementary School in San Ramon.
As KPIX reports, via the CHP's preliminary investigation, the two women were traveling in a gold Toyota Rav4 around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, and entered a parking lot near the Bodega Head Trail. The car moved westbound through the parking lot "at an unknown speed," and then hit a log barrier on the perimeter of the lot next to a cliff's edge. The car reportedly moved the barrier and then went over the cliff and plunged about 100 feet.
Witnesses told the CHP that the car did not appear to be speeding, but it also did make any attempt to stop as it moved through the parking lot.
2 women killed in weekend crash over Bodega Head cliff ID’dhttps://t.co/I9QJqluiCv— The Press Democrat (@NorthBayNews) April 5, 2021
A rescue crew that included personnel from the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, including the county's Henry 1 helicopter, responded to the scene, but the women were dead by the time crews reached them.
CHP Officer David de Rutte told KPIX that the agency is continuing to investigate and interview witnesses, and autopsies are being performed. Also, the vehicle is being examined for possible malfunctions.
Lydiksen Elementary School spokesperson Patrick Gannon issued a statement, per the Chronicle, saying, "Our hearts go out to Elizabeth Correia’s family and our Lydiksen community. Elizabeth touched the lives of many of her students and colleagues. We will have support and counseling services available when school resumes next Monday."
Correia had taught at the school for 16 years, and was on spring break.
As the Mercury News notes, this is the second tragedy to strike the Tri-Valley school community in just the last month, following the accidental death of Dublin Unified School District board member Catherine Kuo during a food drive drop-off event at Fallon Middle School.
Speaking to the Mercury News, friend and fellow first-grade teacher Tracie Culpepper says Correia was a highly organized and passionate teacher. "She gave her heart and soul to be a teacher," Culpepper says. She also says, "She was my person, and I was hers… I don’t know what I’m going to do without her."