Investigators are still trying to learn more about the man who died when his Mercedes-Benz veered head-on into a bus, knocking the bus into the Morro Bay Estuary on April 25.
The car, headed north toward Morro Bay on South Bay Boulevard, drifted into the southbound lane. Its driver, the car’s sole occupant, was killed in the collision. The bus driver was taken to the hospital, treated and released. Some of the three bus passengers had minor injuries.
A CHP investigator said drugs or alcohol are not suspected to have played a role in the crash, but a toxicology test will be done. The Sheriff’s Office has scheduled an autopsy for today.
Investigators said the driver of the Mercedes was not carrying a driver’s license. Other paperwork in the car was used to identify him as Robert Brooks, a resident of Cambria. His wife, Pamela Hughes, is recovering from a stroke and was unable to provide even basic information about her husband, investigators say.
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Hughes is being cared for in a Los Osos assisted-living facility. Her husband was headed home to Cambria after a visit with her when he ran into the bus.
Brooks is believed to have been at least 50 years old, but no “valid license” has been located, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and his birth date is unknown.
Jim Sanders of Cambria was Brooks’ partner in California Marine and Salvage, a business operating out of Morro Bay and Port San Luis. Sanders said his partner was a successful entrepreneur; an inventor and manufacturer for the military, marine and solar industries; an investor; a boat owner and sailor; a pilot; and a world traveler.
Brooks and Sanders had plans drawn up to remodel a building near Morro Bay’s Embarcadero, Sanders said.
“We were just about to sign the papers for the building,” he said, and had plans to build a prototype of a special power supply for boats.
He said Brooks also owned a company named San Francisco Seasonings.
Sanders said Brooks was on prescription medication to combat a heart condition but was anxious to sail his boat from the New England area to Florida, where he often went for Red Sox spring training.
Brooks was described by Sanders as “about 5 feet 10 inches tall, with blue eyes, blondish-grayish hair and a long, distinguished beard.” He said Brooks had a solid build, a twinkle in his eye, a laugh in his voice and an impish sense of humor.
He was “a very interesting guy, very well read, very intelligent, with an eclectic background,” said John MacKinnon, owner of Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill in Cambria, where he estimated Brooks ate four or five times a week. “He was a great guy, very humble, generous and insightful. (He) was like family here.”
MacKinnon said a plaque in Brooks’ honor will be mounted at the restaurant, and say something like, “In loving memory of Robert ‘Rob’ Brooks, a true Cambria character.”