Sandy Adams was an enormous source of support for a family that included an unemployed husband, three grown children and three special-needs grandchildren.

Her death in a car crash last week has left the Santa Rosa family in pieces during the holiday season and a community of hospital employees mourning a co-worker.

Adams was on her way to work last Saturday morning when her Ford Ranger hit a patch of ice on Highway 101 near central Healdsburg. The pickup spun out, slammed into a tree and she became trapped inside. A passing motorist stopped to help and sat with her in below-freezing temperatures while an ambulance arrived.

Adams died enroute to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. She was 52.

Though she worked in the medical records department at Healdsburg Hospital and was minutes away from work when she crashed, she was taken to Memorial Hospital because the Healdsburg hospital lacks a certified trauma center, Healdsburg Hospital CEO Nancy Schmid said.

The hospital brought in counselors to console grieving workers, Schmid said.

"There are tears all over the place," she said. "Sandy was a wonderful member of the community. She had a beautiful singing voice. She was generous and giving and always had a bright attitude. She was really nice to be around."

Adams had worked at Healdsburg Hospital for four years. Before that, she spent 20 years with Sutter Medical Center.

Adams and her husband, Brian, raised a son and two daughters. They were in the process of adopting three grandchildren from their oldest daughter, who had been in abusive relationships, said Craig Adams, the son.

The boys, ages 12, 8 and 3, found a loving home with their grandparents, Craig Adams said. The 3-year-old has speech and motor-skill development issues, he said.

"My mom loved her grandkids," he said. "She had a motherly instinct like you wouldn't believe. Her dream was to be surrounded by her family."

Brian Adams, who has an accounting degree but stayed home to take care of the grandchildren, now must find a job and raise the three boys.

"It's been a very stressful time for the family," said Craig Adams, who is a manager with Costco in Charlotte, N.C., but is moving back to Santa Rosa to help with the family.

Healdsburg Hospital is setting up a trust fund to help the family, Schmid said, and employees have donated food, clothing and Christmas presents for the boys. Those wishing to contribute can email Kristina Holloway, chief human resources officer, at

(You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or