Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Lane Carminati, Justin Evans' girlfriend.
Justin Evans was first, last and always a cowboy. “He loved working with cattle and horses riding horseback,” his grandmother, Barbara Evans, said of her late grandson Monday.
The 20-year-old Cambria resident died in an accident about 4 a.m. Sunday on San Simeon Creek Road.
According to friends and the CHP, Evans and Garrett Taylor, 27, also of Cambria, had left a large party at the ranch home of Tim Winsor of Winsor Construction. Taylor was driving a 2007 Yamaha Rhino two-seat, utility all-terrain vehicle, which he had taken without Winsor’s permission, according to CHP spokesman Todd Cookston.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Tribune
Taylor and Evans were westbound on two-lane San Simeon Creek Road, approaching Red Mountain Road, when the accident occurred. As they negotiated a curve between two new bridges, the ATV drifted onto the shoulder, slamming into an oak tree, according to the CHP.
Witnesses described a horrific scene, with the ATV wrapped around the tree and both men lying on the steeply sloping ground. They were not wearing seat belts, according to the CHP report.
Evans died at the scene, while Taylor had severe head trauma and abdominal injuries. He was taken by ambulance to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, where he was listed in fair condition Monday evening.
Alcohol was determined to be a factor in the accident, the CHP said.
Taylor was charged with felony driving under the influence, “causing fatal injuries,” Cookston said. An investigation into the incident continues. Additional charges, including vehicle theft, can be filed later if they are warranted, CHP Sgt. Tim Neumann said.
The Evans family has lived in Cambria for at least four generations. The Taylor family has been on the North Coast since 1875. With many friends and neighbors of the families living in Cambria and throughout the county ranching community, the accident was widely felt.
Some also remembered another sudden death in the Evans family: Charles Evans, Justin Evans’ grandfather, died in December 2008, apparently of a brain hemorrhage triggered when he was hit in the head by a falling bale of hay.
Justin Evans graduated from Leffingwell High School in Cambria in 2011. According to Karl Dearie, assistant superintendent of Coast Unified School District, Evans was “a quiet, always polite and respectful young man nice, very likeable. He liked to work with his hands, and he was good at it. Like a lot of the ranch kids, he loved outdoor work.” According to his mother and brother, Mary and Michael Evans, Justin Evans had recently “been living his dream,” working on a 1,000-head cattle ranch in Wyoming. “He was genuine, nothing artificial about him,” Mary Evans said.
While her son loved the work in Wyoming, he wasn’t too keen on the weather, his mother and grandmother recalled.
“On June 10, he was still scraping ice off the window. He wasn’t used to that,” Mary Evans said.
He’d even bought a horse in Wyoming, and a new saddle for it, his grandmother said. He looked forward to being at home again, and seeing his girlfriend, Lane Carminati of Atascadero.
“I’m so glad he got to do his dream,” his mother said. “He was a cowboy, a really good kid.”
Indeed, he valued the cowboy way of life. In a Facebook post in February 2011, he wrote, “Sit tall in the saddle, hold your head up high and live like you ain’t afraid to die. And don’t be scared, just enjoy your ride.”