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Santa Rosa man dies, his girlfriend badly hurt in one-car crash near Healdsburg

A man died and his girlfriend was badly injured in a single-vehicle crash on Highway 101 near Healdsburg early Monday morning, as the couple headed to their Santa Rosa home, authorities and the man’s family said.

Adrienne Smith, 19, was driving south on Highway 101 in a Ford Focus south of Dry Creek Road with passenger Kyle Hayes, 20, then lost control of the car, hit a tree and slid down a dirt embankment before coming to a stop, the CHP said.

Officers responded to the crash at 12:17 a.m. and Smith and Hayes were transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with major injuries.

Hayes, who suffered brain injuries, died Monday afternoon at the hospital surrounded by family after he was taken off life support, said his mother Kassie Hayes.

Although the cause of the crash remains under investigation, DUI is not suspected as a contributing factor, CHP Officer David deRutte said.

Smith had driven Hayes to his cashier job in Mendocino on Sunday, hung out with his family who lives in the town until Hayes got off work at around 11 p.m. She was driving him home ahead of an early-morning shift at Freeman Toyota in Santa Rosa, where he worked as a mechanic, Kassie Hayes said.

“We already forgive her. We understand that accidents happen,” his mother said of Smith. “We know that she’s probably not going to stop beating herself up about this and that’s really sad. I think Kyle would really want her to move on and not let his passing ruin her life.”

Hayes was born and raised in Mendocino and spent about a decade training with a local nonprofit to be a circus performer, his mother said.

He started classes at Santa Rosa Junior College soon after graduating from Mendocino Community High School in 2018 and planned to eventually transfer to a four-year college to study mechanical engineering.

Hayes began working on cars as soon as he could legally drive, starting with the purchase of a $1,500 Mustang GT that he repaired and traded for a better car, his mother said. After more trades and repairs, he eventually traded up to a $15,000 Corvette, his mother said.

“He was very mechanically inclined,” she said. “He wanted to be the mechanic and own the shop, too.”

Her son was a friend to those “outcast in the community” and a caring brother, she said.

Just two weeks before Monday’s crash, Hayes’ younger brother Christopher joined the couple as a roommate in their Santa Rosa home, Kassie Hayes said.

“They were best friends,” she said of her sons. “They ... were super excited to share their lives.”

Besides his mother and brother, Kyle Hayes is survived by his father Bill and Peanut, the family’s chihuahua.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com and Staff Writer Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or kaylee.tornay@pressdemocrat.com.

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