SAN JOSE -- Relatives are preparing to lay two San Jose women to rest after authorities say they were killed in a car crash near Los Banos last week at the hands of a San Jose man driving against traffic while on drugs.
Alicia Carranza, 40, and 30-year-old Sara Castro Chiti were passengers in a Ford F-150 pickup on eastbound Highway 152 approaching Interstate 5 in the early-morning hours of Oct. 9 when the truck was hit head-on by a Ford Explorer going the wrong way, according to the California Highway Patrol and Merced County Sheriff's Office.
Chiti was pronounced dead at the scene. Carranza was airlifted to a Modesto hospital, where she died. Another passenger in the pickup, 23-year-old San Jose resident Maria Can, was hospitalized with major injuries. The pickup driver, 23-year-old Victor Manual Herrera of San Jose, suffered minor injuries.
The driver of the wrong-way Ford Explorer, 68-year-old San Jose resident Ali Farsad, suffered minor injuries and was soon arrested on suspicion of multiple counts of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of illegal drugs. He is being held in Merced County Jail on $304,404 bail. It was not immediately clear what drugs Farsad was allegedly using.
Friends and relatives said the four people in the F-150 were headed to Los Angeles for janitorial jobs there when the crash occurred.
Chiti emigrated from the small Guatemalan town of Totonicapán seven years ago, and other than brother Govany Castro and sister-in-law, her family still lives there. Castro remembered his sister, who once cleaned houses in San Jose before getting her current job in Southern California, as a social person who doted over his 2-year-old son.
"She was friendly, outgoing and had a lot of friends," Castro said. "And she totally loved my son."
Carranza was a friend and co-worker of Chiti; her family could not immediately be reached. Can is Govany Castro's sister-in-law.
A funeral Mass for the two women is tentatively planned for Thursday morning at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on San Antonio and Jackson streets in San Jose.
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.
Donations to help the families cover funeral expenses for Alicia Carranza and Sara Castro Chiti can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank branch to account number 1528461807.