RAMONA, Calif. - A fiery collision near the Mount Gower Open Space Preserve in Ramona killed one woman Monday afternoon and injured a father and his two children.
The crash occurred about 4:30 p.m. in the 22700 block of Vista Ramona Road, just east of Old Julian Highway, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The CHP said a 50-year-old San Diego man was driving a 2003 Ford F-250 pickup truck carrying his two children on the eastbound side of Vista Ramona Road when he suddenly crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on with a Nissan Altima.
The Nissan caught fire following the wreck, CHP reported. The female driver and sole occupant, identified as 21-year-old Racheal Guarneros, died at the scene. CHP officials said she was on her way home from work at the time of the crash.
The 50-year-old driver of the truck suffered severe injuries, including a broken back. His 4-year-old son -- who was not properly restrained and was ejected from the pickup -- was left with life-threatening trauma, and his 5-year-old daughter sustained moderately serious injuries.
The man was expected to be booked on suspicion of DUI upon his release from the hospital, according to CHP public affairs Officer Kevin Pearlstein. The spokesman declined to release the Ramona resident's name, citing CHP policy regarding suspects who have not yet been arrested.
The victim's sister, Sandy Khoury, told 10News that Guarneros always lit up the room.
"She was always smiling," said Khoury. "Always happy; just a larger-than-life personality."
Guarneros' family said she was looking forward to her future.
"She wanted to get married and have a family," Khoury said. "She just had the most beautiful soul … She loved my daughter more than anybody I've ever seen love somebody."
Her loved ones are struggling to see past the pain. Guarneros' uncle, Peter, explained, "It's going to be hard for us to forgive him. He has taken a large part of this family away and forever will be missed."
But the one message they see clearly: "Don't drink and drive," said Khoury. "You are taking someone's sister, someone's daughter. They are tias, they are aunts; you are just robbing the family of someone they love and care for."
A service for Guarneros will be held Sept. 16 in Ramona, with a viewing to be held at Bonham Bros. & Stewart Mortuary (321 12th St.) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A celebration of Guarneros' life will be held at the Mountain View Community Church (1191 Meadowlark Way) at 2 p.m.