PLEASANTON — A Pleasanton elementary school teacher and her mother died April 3 when their car crashed over a scenic Sonoma County cliff and plummeted about 100 feet to the rocky shoreline below, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) said.
Dublin residents Elizabeth Correia, 41, and her mother, Maria Teixeira, 64, were pronounced dead at the scene of the 11 a.m. crash at the West Bodega Head parking lot, a picturesque site overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Correia, a Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) educator since 2005, taught first grade at Lydiksen Elementary School. Her mother was lead custodian at Montevideo Elementary School in the San Ramon Unified School District.
Although CHP officers and the Sonoma County coroner’s office will conduct the inquiry into why the crash occurred, the preliminary belief is that it was a terrible accident, and not a double suicide, CHP Officer David deRutte said.
“We are investigating everything,” deRutte said. The probe will look at whether the car Teixeira was driving malfunctioned and whether she suffered a medical issue. Alcohol was not suspected as a factor.
“There (were) a lot of witnesses,” deRutte said.
Located in Bodega Bay off of Highway 1, Bodega Head is a rocky headland that forms the entrance into Bodega Harbor. A website for the popular tourist site says it provides for crabbing along the jetty, with hiking trails on the ocean side that provide access to “small, sandy coves and spectacular blufftop scenic views.” The views offer vantage points for whale watching.
According to the CHP, the silver Toyota Rav4 carrying the women drove west through the parking lot, struck a log barrier at the edge, shoved it aside and plunged over the cliff.
Witnesses told officers it did not appear that the Toyota was speeding or driving unsafely, but it never slowed or stopped. The SUV landed on its roof.
Besides the CHP, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Bodega Bay Fire Department and Fish and Game authorities responded.
Correia grew up in Pleasanton, attending Pleasanton Middle School and Foothill High School. She received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a specialty in early childhood education and a teaching credential from Cal State Hayward, now known as Cal State East Bay.
“I am so excited to begin my 16th year of teaching with each of you,” Correia recently wrote on her “Meet Your Teacher” district website. “Whether we are learning remotely or in person, I know we will have a year full of learning, adventure and fun together.”
Saying “I love teaching and learning,” Correia also listed her loves as family and friends, traveling and Disneyland, reading and music, fun-themed 5Ks and nature walks, photography and art, Target and Amazon and non-fat Chai tea lattes.
The PUSD, which is on spring break, said support and counseling services will be made available when school resumes on Monday.
“Our hearts go out to Elizabeth Correia’s family and our Lydiksen community,” the statement read. “Elizabeth touched the lives of many of her students and colleagues.”
Correia’s father, Lewis Correia, wrote a short post on his Facebook page, accompanied by a photograph of him and his daughter wearing Shamrock 5K shirts, to announce her death.
“With a heavy heart I want to let everyone know my daughter Elizabeth was in a car accident yesterday with her mom,” he said. “They both died in the crash. We were blessed to have her for 41 years.”
Katie Witt, the principal at the school where Teixeira worked since July 2000, called her a “beloved school custodian.”
“For years, Mrs. Maria was a fixture in our community,” Witt wrote in an email to parents and staff. “She could be found on our campus every day, doing whatever needed to be done to serve the community. Wherever there were people — wherever there was an activity, wherever there was someone who needed help — Mrs. Maria was there and willing to help. The kids loved her kind smile and reassuring presence. She will be greatly missed.”