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Teen killed in Cuesta Grade crash was ‘a good girl, with a good heart’

Emily Reyes, 16, of Wasco was killed in a car accident on the Cuesta Grade on Friday night. Reyes graduated from Grizzly Youth Academy in San Luis Obispo in December.
Emily Reyes, 16, of Wasco was killed in a car accident on the Cuesta Grade on Friday night. Reyes graduated from Grizzly Youth Academy in San Luis Obispo in December. Courtesy photo

“She was a good girl, with a good heart,” said Monika Ruiz, mother of 16-year-old Emily Monique Reyes, who was killed in a car crash Friday night on the Cuesta Grade that also critically injured another passenger.

Ruiz, speaking by phone Sunday, said her daughter’s graduation from Grizzly Youth Academy in San Luis Obispo in December was one of her happiest memories. Reyes, of Wasco, attended the academy because she wanted to change her life, Ruiz said, adding that she told her daughter that she needed to put her heart into it.

“When she went to Grizzly, she said she was going to make me proud,” but she told her daughter that she was already proud of her, Ruiz said.

Reyes graduated from the academy as part of Class 35 after spending 5 1/2 months in the program. The teen had planned to join the Marines once she turned 17 1/2 . In the meantime, Reyes was enrolled at Wasco High School. She had hoped to become a nurse after her time in the Marines, Ruiz said.

When asked what Reyes liked, Ruiz responded quickly: “Music.” After some thought she added, “Partying, dancing, hanging out with friends.”

Reyes was the oldest of four children; she had a 15-year-old brother and two sisters, ages 13 and 11.

The CHP has yet to release the name of the crash victim and would not confirm that it was Reyes.

Gino Lopez, 21, of Arvin was allegedly driving at a high rate of speed on southbound Highway 101 about 8:30 p.m. Friday when he lost control and crashed into a metal guardrail and collided with a tractor-trailer, according to the CHP. Lopez had three passengers: Reyes, 19-year-old Brittany Arreola and 18-year-old Henry Aguilar, all of Wasco.

A second car crashed into Lopez’s car, causing Reyes to be ejected from the vehicle. Lopez and Aguilar walked away from the crash before a CHP officer stopped them about 500 feet from the scene of the accident.

Arreola suffered major injuries and was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo. She was in critical but stable condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit Sunday afternoon, according to hospital spokesman Ron Yukelson.

Aguilar and Lopez were treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Lopez was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of murder, gross vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated, felony driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a suspended or revoked license, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office website. He was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail as of Sunday evening.

Tribune staff writer Lindsey Holden contributed to this report.

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