Mother and Daughter Die After SUV Plunges Off Calif. Ocean Cliff: 'Hole in My Heart,' Says Son
A first-grade teacher and her mother were killed after their vehicle careened off of an ocean cliff in Northern California and plummeted 70 feet down, according to authorities and local reports.
Elizabeth Correia, 41, and her mother, 64-year-old Maria Teixeira, died in the crash, which took place at Bodega Head Trail on Saturday afternoon, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, the Mercury News reported.
Officials with the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District said Saturday that firefighters were working a rescue mission at Bodega Head "for a vehicle that went off the cliff."
The statement was later updated to confirm that both victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
The sheriff's office reportedly said that Coerreia lived in Dublin, and was a first-grade teacher at Lydiksen Elementary for the past 16 years. Her mother, meanwhile, who also lived in Dublin, worked as lead custodian at Montevideo Elementary.
"It's with [a] heavy heart that I share my mom, Maria Teixeira and my sister, Elizabeth Correia, both passed away yesterday after being involved in a single car crash in Bodega Bay," Tim Correia wrote on Facebook. "There is a hole in my heart that will never be filled now. I'm so grateful for them and the time we shared. They will forever be part of me. I love you mom and sis."
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Capt. Justin Fox said dozens of people were present at the scenic overlook near Bodega Bay's Head Trail, and watched as the Toyota SUV plunged 70 feet down and landed upside down on the rocks below around 11:30 a.m., the Associated Press reported.
According to the Mercury News, the California Highway Patrol said Teixeira was driving the SUV when it entered the parking lot and did not slow or stop as it hit a log barrier at the cliff's edge.
A witness wrote on Facebook that she was parked 20 yards from the vehicle, and that all who had seen the incident were "quite heartbroken."
Witnesses also reportedly told officials that the car didn't seem to be speeding or driving in an unsafe manner.
Correia's teacher biography said she worked as an educator in Pleasanton since 2005, and was a graduate of California State University, East Bay. It described her as a Pleasanton native who enjoyed teaching, reading, music, art, movies, Disneyland and spending time with friends and family.
California Highway Patrol Office David de Rutte told the AP that the cause of the crash is under investigation, and that investigators will look at things autopsy results, the vehicle and witness statements.
"Our thoughts are with the families," the Bodega Volunteer Fire Department said on Facebook.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.