Couple killed in Coronado Bridge crash remembered as advocates, mentors for youth

Posted at 10:36 PM, Oct 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-17 18:08:50-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The four people killed after a pickup truck plummeted off a Coronado Bridge ramp and landed on a crowd of people in Chicano Park were identified by the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office Sunday.

The victims were identified as Cruz Elias Contreras, 52, AnnaMarie Contreras, 50, both of Arizona, and Andre Christopher Banks, 49, and Francine Denise Jimenez, 46, both of Los Angeles.

Cruz Elias and AnnaMarie Contreras arrived from Chandler, Arizona, to attend Saturday's motorcycle rally at Chicano Park in San Diego's Barrio Logan neighborhood.

In a statement sent to 10News Sunday night, Jacob Contreras, Cruz's nephew, thanked the community of San Diego for its outpouring of support. Social media coverage of the incident has garnered thousands of comments and condolences for the families of the victims.

"We want to thank everyone in the community for their heart felt thoughts and prayers for our family as we grieve the immeasurable loss of these two amazing people. Parents to 3 beautiful girls and grandparents to 2 grand-babies, who lost their lives due to senseless and preventable actions of another person," Jacob Contreras wrote in the statement.

Married for 35 years, Cruz and AnnaMarie had three daughters and two grandchildren, according to family. Both spent several years providing a home for many of Arizona's foster children and advocating for at-risk youth.

"Cruz spent the last decade of his life helping, nurturing, and promoting the lives of troubled teens across Arizona. In her career, AnnaMarie spent many years working at a local elementary school as a teacher's assistant," the family said.

"They spent their free time enjoying the brotherhood and serenity of the open road on their motorcycle," the family said.

The crash happened around 3:34 p.m. when the driver of a GMC pickup truck traveling northbound on I-5, transitioning westbound onto the Coronado Bridge, lost control and the truck plunged about 60 feet below onto a vendor's booth.

"All I heard was a boom, and all of a sudden we just see this truck flying down," said witness John Vazquez. "We see this truck just falling off of the bridge and it lands on the booth nose first."

The driver of the truck, later identified as 24-year-old Richard Anthony Sepolio, was placed under arrest for being under the influence of alcohol when the crash occurred, according to CHP Officer Jake Sanchez. He is facing four counts of vehicular homicide and DUI. There may be additional charges as the investigation continues.

Members of the Contreras family arrived in San Diego on Sunday night to join the hundreds of people that will be holding a vigil at Chicano Park. They also hope to find answers in the tragedy that claimed the life of the family's emotional pillar.

"While we understand the interest in this accident, we ask the public to please respect the families need to grieve in privacy. Thank you," Jacob Contreras wrote.

The family is accepting donations for the Chicano Park Contreras Family Fund through their GoFundMe page. Money raised will help cover costs of Cruz and AnnaMarie's final resting place, as well as be used to continue to give to the programs the Contreras' supported.

LINK: Chicano Park Contreras Family Fund