A 2016 Atascadero High School graduate was killed and her older sister critically injured Tuesday morning when they collided with a semi truck on Highway 198 on the way to Chico State University, where the woman was a collegiate runner.
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Paso Robles resident Brittni Frace, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the California Highway Patrol. Her sister, Brynn Frace, was taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno with major injuries.
Brynn Frace was listed in critical condition as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Mary Lisa Russell, a hospital spokeswoman.
After stopping for gas near Interstate 5, Brynn Frace, who was driving a 2004 Chevy Tahoe, stopped at an intersection before attempting to turn east onto Highway 198 in front of a semi heading west. The semi, driven by Terry Lee Keeling of Exeter, hit the left side of the Tahoe. Keeling, who was traveling about 40 mph at the time, was uninjured in the crash.
Both sisters were wearing seatbelts, the CHP said.
Shari Frace, mother of Brynn and Brittni (nicknamed “Bitti”), urged the community to pray for both sisters in a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon.
“In honor of Bitti and lifting up prayers for Brynn, please go to Highlands Church in Paso Robles and say a prayer and say a happy memory,” Shari Frace wrote.
The sisters made plenty of happy memories together and shared them in photos posted across social media. Running was a shared love, and they trained with each other, with Brynn recently telling her mom she was considering trying out for the cross country team at Chico State.
On social media, supporters offered support to the family, including the sisters’ brother Braedon and father Warren.
“Heartbroken to hear of your loss,” wrote Diane Wingfield. “I remember them as sweet toddler girls and have love watching them on Facebook become such amazing women.”
The crash sent shock waves through the San Luis Obispo County running community, where both Frace sisters were well-known.
“It’s just a shock to everybody and anyone who knew the Frace family,” said Atascadero High School Coach Roger Warnes. “They are two of the most positive, giving and kind ladies you will ever meet.”
Warnes had just spent four days with the sisters at the Rock and Roll Arizona Marathon and Half-Marathon in Phoenix.
Both sisters were standout distance runners at Atascadero under Warnes.
Brittni was the school record holder in the mile and named to the All County and All League teams. Brynn, who had recently transferred from Humboldt State to Chico State to be with her sister, was also a “fantastic runner and human being” and was training for her first marathon.
Warnes said Brynn was on life support but that “we are hoping that (she) is going to somehow pull out of this, but it’s going to take a lot of prayers.” Warnes was in Fresno to be with the family when he spoke to The Tribune.
He said the two were driving back to Chico State to get ready for the start of the spring semester next week.
This story has been updated with comments from friends and family.