Anthony Au was on his way to work when tragedy struck.
Just after 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, while driving northbound on Highway 101 near Higuera Street, Au’s car was hit by 22-year-old Nicole Annalise Scalone, who was driving the wrong way down the highway, the CHP said.
The vehicles collided head-on, and both Scalone and Au died as a result, the CHP said.
Scalone, a Cal Poly student from Bellevue, Washington, was just days away from graduating.
The collision is still under investigation. The CHP on Thursday said it does not yet know whether distracted driving, drugs or alcohol were factors in the crash.
Au’s coworkers at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office — he worked at the Honor Farm as a cook for the past three years — took to Facebook on Thursday to remember their friend.
“Everyone here who worked alongside Anthony is grieving the loss of both a good man and friend,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Anthony’s family and friends during this difficult time.”
Loss of a ‘good, kind-hearted man’
According to Correctional Lt. Stephanie Landgraf, who oversees Honor Farm kitchen staff, Au was a “really well-liked, kind-hearted guy.”
“Anthony was pretty quiet,” Landgraf told The Tribune in a phone interview Thursday evening, “ but if you were walking past him, he would often greet you with a smile. Never a time went by when he wouldn’t make eye contact with you and wave.”
One thing that Landgraf said everyone will remember about Au was his love of superheroes. He could often be found wearing a Batman insignia or other superhero paraphernalia, she said.
“I think any time any one of us sees one of those, we’ll have a thought about him,” she said.
Landgraf said the inmate population at the Honor Farm took the news of Au’s death particularly hard on Thursday because he was generally treated as a friend and coworker of theirs.
“His work was sincere,” she said. “You could see that.”
The Sheriff’s Office has been in contact with Au’s family, she said — he was a father, though Landgraff declined to give further details, citing the family’s privacy — and is “committed to supporting them, as well as his internal family” at the Honor Farm through this difficult time.
“It’s never easy to lose somebody, but I think it’s even more difficult to lose somebody so suddenly and tragically,” she said. “Our condolences go out to everyone who was close to him.”
Cal Poly mourns student’s death
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong and Vice President Keith Humphrey confirmed news of Scalone’s death in an email to the campus community Wednesday night.
“We are heartbroken to report that one of our students, Nicole Scalone, passed away early this morning in a car accident,” the email reads. “The university is in contact with her family to offer our support, and our thoughts are with them and Nicole’s friends during this difficult time.”
Scalone studied business administration with a concentration in information systems, Cal Poly said. Her degree will be awarded posthumously.