‘Shocked and deeply saddened.’ Good Samaritan killed in wrong-way crash worked at Cal Poly

The Good Samaritan killed while helping a wrong-way crash victim on Highway 101 in Paso Robles early Monday morning worked at Cal Poly for more than six years.

Monica Cantu, 55, of Paso Robles was a senior facilities custodial manager at the San Luis Obispo university, according to an email sent by Cal Poly Monday afternoon.

“Those of you who know Monica will not be surprised that her first instinct was to stop and help another person in need. Putting others first was central to Monica’s values and speaks volumes about her character,” President Jeffrey Armstrong said in the email. “We are shocked and deeply saddened by today’s news, and our thoughts are with Monica’s family, friends and coworkers at this difficult time.”

According to the CHP, a wrong-way driver was traveling south on northbound Highway 101 near Spring Street and hit another car just before 2 a.m. Monday, spinning it into the center divider.

Cantu was killed from blunt force trauma when she and another Good Samaritan pulled over to help the driver of the car that was hit, the CHP said.

She and Raul Gomez, 49, of Paso Robles were struck by another car driving past that ran over some debris and caused the vehicle to spin out of control, the CHP said. Gomez was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center for major injuries.

The driver who was injured in the wrong-way crash — Anne Neville-Olson, 62, of Atascadero — was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center with moderate injuries.

The CHP is still searching for the wrong-way driver, King City resident Pedro Alvarado-Torres, who reportedly fled on foot after the wrong-way crash.

According the Cal Poly email, Cantu joined Cal Poly in December 2012 and was involved in the planning and post-event cleanup of many major campus events, including commencement and open house.

The email said that Cantu was committed to providing exceptional service and known for frequently working long shifts to support her staff.

“She was recognized in 2017 with the Outstanding Staff Award for her hard work, fairness, accountability and compassion while overseeing one of the largest departments on campus,” the email said.

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Gabby Ferreira is a breaking news and general assignment reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. A native of Houston, Texas, she was a reporter in Tucson, Arizona; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Palm Springs, California, before moving to San Luis Obispo County in 2016.