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Santa Rosa Junior College student dies in crash on way to school

Speed and a slick, wet road contributed to a single-car collision that killed a 20-year-old Santa Rosa man, CHP officials said Friday.

The driver, Nicholas Owen, was identified Friday by the Sonoma County Sheriff Coroner’s Office.

Owen drove off the roadway and slammed into a tree along Petrified Forest Road near Sharp Road at about 8:10 a.m. Monday, the CHP said. He was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:15 p.m., according to the CHP.

Owen had only recently received a driver’s license and was an inexperienced driver, said Debbie Perry, a family friend from Santa Rosa. He had recently moved to Calistoga with his girlfriend and was on his way to a class at Santa Rosa Junior College when he crashed Monday, Perry said.

Owen was a graduate of Montgomery High School. He was an avid card and video game player. Friends are gathering at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Outer Planes comics and games store on Mendocino Avenue in downtown Santa Rosa for a potluck and tournament with various games in his honor.

“He’s been going there since he was very young,” his friend Caden Zoller of Santa Rosa said. “I loved Nick like a brother. He was a great man and a great friend.”

Perry said that Owen stood out among the students she served at the cafeteria at Spring Creek Elementary School, and she became close with his family. “I served lunch to about 200 kids a day and I took a liking to Nicky,” Perry said. “He always wanted to hang out with me in the kitchen. He was one of those kids you couldn’t help loving.”

Owen is survived by his parents, Tara Wood of Santa Rosa and James Owen of Port Neches, Texas, and his siblings, Ashley Owen and James Owen, both of Santa Rosa.

A graveside service will be held at 11:11 a.m. Wednesday at the Santa Rosa Memorial Park Cemetery on Franklin Avenue, followed by a celebration of his life at 1:11 p.m. Wednesday at the Howarth Park gazebo.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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