A young woman and her 11-year-old brother from Cambria died Tuesday afternoon when a vehicle in which they were passengers rolled more than 200 feet down a steep cliff off Highway 46 West near the Vista Point summit.
According to the CHP, 20-year-old Patience Robbins and her brother, William, were killed in the incident, which occurred about 3:55 p.m. The two died at the scene, the CHP said, and the cause of death was determined later to be multiple blunt-force traumas.
Ismael Ochoa, 22, of Cambria was driving the 2000 Ford F-150 pickup. He was taken by ambulance to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, where family members have requested that information about him be kept confidential, hospital spokesman Ron Yukelson said. However, some who tried to visit Ochoa on Wednesday said he was in intensive care.
CHP investigators say they don’t believe drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash.
The CHP report from the scene suggests that Ochoa may have fallen asleep briefly, at which point the truck veered to the right and went off the highway. Ochoa likely awoke almost immediately and turned the truck to the left, so the vehicle began to spin counter-clockwise, according to the CHP.
After crossing both lanes and going off the highway, the vehicle plunged down the steep embankment, immediately overturning. William Robbins was ejected (he was in the back seat behind Ochoa but wasn’t wearing a seat belt, according to the CHP), and the truck continued farther down the cliff.
Ochoa and Patience Robbins were Coast Union High School graduates; he reportedly was a star athlete there. Friends who talked to Ochoa’s family say he is devastated by the accident.
The two reportedly had been a devoted couple for more than five years and were in the process of renting an Atascadero apartment to share, friends said.
Robbins had worked at El Colibri Boutique Hotel & Spa in Cambria for nearly three years and attended Cuesta College.
Pragna Patel of El Colibri said she and her staff are devastated by Robbins’ death. She said the young woman was “brilliant … the kind of courage she had to take care of her family and her mother. We can’t even get our thoughts around” the fact that Robbins is gone.
Wendy Steffensen of North Hollywood, a regular guest at El Colibri, said, “It’s a very somber day here. It’s almost like losing a family member. You can see it in everybody’s faces. We can’t really talk to each other about it yet because we’ll all start crying.”
Robbins “was a sweet girl,” Steffensen continued, “quiet, but she would go above and beyond to make our stay happy. She was great with the guests, and she really knew what she was doing, and at such a young age.”
“Her name really fit her,” Steffensen said of Patience.
Robbins’ Facebook page is filled with heartbroken goodbyes and memories of good times shared. Patience and William Robbins were the eldest and youngest, respectively, of five children in the family, according to friends.
Ochoa has worked at El Chorlito Mexican Restaurant in San Simeon for about four years, according to his employer, Evelyn Morales. She described the young man as “a good, clean kid, dependable, well-liked by his fellow employees, a hard worker who started as a busser and worked up to being a waiter. We’re all just heartbroken.”
Tim May, a coach and teacher at Coast Union High School, taught both Ochoa and Robbins in English class, and had coached Ochoa in basketball from sixth grade through high school.
“He was a good player, one of those solid, committed guys who was always there,” May said. “He took it seriously, but he had a good time doing it, always a fun attitude. He was a good guy to coach.”
Family friend Monica Soto-Raethke has established a memorial account at Heritage Oaks Bank. She, Steve Kniffen of Sons of The American Legion, Patel and others are planning a benefit dinner at the Veterans Memorial Building within the next two weeks to raise money for cremation and other expenses for the family. For details or to volunteer, call Soto-Raethke at 540-1245.
Friends also are tentatively planning to hold a celebration of life ceremony at Shamel Park at 2 p.m. July 26.