A Cal Poly student who caused a deadly wrong-way crash Wednesday was an outgoing young woman who already had a career waiting for her after graduation, which was just days away.
Nicole Scalone, a fourth-year student at Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business from Bellevue, Washington, was driving south on northbound Highway 101 through San Luis Obispo when she collided head on with another vehicle, killing the driver, Los Osos resident Anthony Au.
Au, who worked as a chef at the San Luis Obispo County Jail’s Honor Farm, was on his way to work at 2:30 a.m. when the crash occurred, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.
In a phone interview Thursday afternoon, Scalone’s grandfather, Howard Scalone, said that the 22-year-old was a hard-working student who was well-traveled.
After graduation, she planned to move back to Washington, where he said she already had secured a job at Costco’s corporate office.
“She was a very outgoing girl,” Howard Scalone said. “She had a job all lined up, and all she had to do was walk and accept her certificate.”
Her grandfather said Scalone had recently returned from a two-week trip to Ireland, and in a prior trip, she drove cross-country to visit friends in Pennsylvania.
Howard Scalone said his granddaughter enjoyed the outdoors, camping and hiking. She was serious about a career in business and came to San Luis Obispo due to the reputation of the university’s business administration program.
“She wanted a business school that would really prepare her for her career,” he said.
Nicole Scalone’s brother, Michael, remembered his sister for her kind nature.
“Nicole was an incredibly kind sister and friend,” he told The Tribune via text message. “She wanted the world to be a better place and would want her passing to serve as a reminder to cherish those around you every day.”
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.
In their email to campus, Cal Poly officials said Scalone also studied abroad in Italy in 2017 and participated in Orfalea College of Business’s Peer Mentoring program, as well as the Cal Poly Women in Business Association.
Counseling services are available to Cal Poly students, employees and their families.
Los Osos man remembered
Au’s coworkers at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office 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.”
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.”
CHP investigating crash
The CHP confirmed Thursday afternoon that Scalone was driving south on northbound Highway 101 in the No. 1 lane near Higuera Street at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning when she collided head on with a car driven by Au.
The agency’s investigation of the crash is ongoing.
Early Wednesday morning, the CHP said it did not yet know if distracted driving, drugs or alcohol were factors.