The driver of a car involved in a fiery freeway crash that killed her 7-year-old son and three other passengers died of her injuries Saturday, while her younger son clung to life with severe burns.
The five lost lives have devastated an extended Sonoma County family, whose loved ones gathered at the hospital burn unit in Sacramento on Saturday.
They paid their last respects to Edith Carlos Medina, 23, of Windsor, who was taken off life support at UC Davis Medical Center.
Her son, 4-year-old Christian Flores Medina, was in critical condition two floors above in the pediatric intensive care unit. Doctors who operated on Christian told the family he had a 70 percent chance of living through the ordeal.
All six were in a 1992 Honda Civic that was northbound Friday evening in stalled commute-hour traffic just north of Airport Boulevard when a 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse traveling at about 70 mph smashed into their car from behind, causing it to burst into flames, according to the CHP.
The four who died in the car, according to family members and the CHP, were:
Maria Lopez Camacho, 54, of Windsor, who was in the right-front passenger seat; and in the back seat, Fernando Flores-Medina, 7; and two of Carlos Medina's sisters-in-law, Almadelia Menera-Basurto, 16, of Windsor, and a woman from a small town in Michoacan, Mexico, whose name is being withheld until next of kin are notified.
Also devastated was the family of 26-year-old Ryan Odell Karr, who witnesses said caused the crash shortly after 6p.m. Friday.
The Honda Civic was stuck in traffic when Karr, apparently momentarily distracted, slammed into the car from behind. The accident and subsequent investigation closed the freeway for nearly six hours.
Frantic motorists who stopped to try to help managed to pull the 4-year-old from the car's back seat despite the danger to themselves. They were turned back by the flames in their efforts to save the others. Firefighters had to douse the blaze before they could extricate the driver.
Karr, who was uninjured save for a scratch on his nose and a sore back, was in seclusion at his parents' Windsor home with two law enforcement chaplains.
"He's very, very traumatized," said family friend Kimberly Walton, Windsor High School's softball coach and a former town planning commissioner.
Walton, who came outside the family's house to talk with a reporter Saturday afternoon, said Karr's family was inside, "praying for all the families involved and all of those affected.
"Ryan said it's just never going to go away," Walton continued. "What has happened is never going to go away. He's just so, so sorry."
She noted he had voluntarily taken field sobriety tests at the crash scene and provided a blood sample, though the CHP said it did not appear alcohol was a factor.
She said he was en route to her Windsor home from a house he shares with roommates in Rincon Valley to tell her and her husband about his new construction job when he glanced down for a split-second, "only to look up and see the car stopped in his lane."
The CHP said Karr did not hit the brakes before ramming the Civic, which then rear-ended a Honda Accord and burst into flames. The Accord driver, Darlene May Caruso, 67, of Petaluma, was uninjured, the CHP said.