Cal Poly student killed in Cholame 'Y' collision was 'always smiling'

A Cal Poly student killed last week in a fiery collision near the Cholame "Y" intersection was remembered Wednesday for her intelligence and bright smile.

Iriana Pina, 22, of Kettleman City sustained fatal injuries during a collision on April 30, while she was traveling north on Highway 41 in her 2007 Ford Mustang, according to the CHP.

For unknown reasons, her car crossed the double yellow lines into the southbound lanes of traffic and was struck by a big rig hauling a trailer.

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The big rig and trailer hit the side of the car, jack-knifed onto the right shoulder of the road and burst into flames.

Fillimon R. Lopez, 63, of Corona, who was driving the big rig, escaped the crash without injuries, according to the CHP.

Pina was a junior transfer student studying civil and environmental engineering at Cal Poly, according to department chair Charles Chadwell.

She was also an engineering intern at Tulare Lake Compost in Kettleman City, according to her LinkedIn page.

Ashraf M. Rahim, a Cal Poly transportation professor, said he taught Pina in two of his classes. Before Pina's death, Rahim said he'd worked with her to plan her coursework so she could graduate next year.

Rahim said Pina had one of the best demeanors he'd ever encountered in a student.

"Iriana always had that smile on her face whenever I (looked) at her while lecturing," he wrote in an email.

Cal Poly's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is collecting money for Pina's family, as are her coworkers.

A GoFundMe page organized by Tulare Lake Compost had raised $6,585, as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Coworker Carl Glass, who put the page together, called Pina "a bright and shining star."

"She approached life with a spirit like no other," he wrote on the GoFundMe page. "No challenge was too great. No job was impossible. She was smart, funny, clever and beautiful. She will be greatly missed. "

Those interested in donating to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering's fund for Pina's family, can send money to Kay Kibbe, Dept. of CE/ENVE, Cal Poly, 1 Grand Ave., San Luis Obispo, CA 93407.

To donate to the GoFundMe page, visit gofundme.com/in-memory-of-iriana-pina.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden