WALNUT CREEK -- A mother's vacation to see her son and his new wife came to a tragic end Saturday, when a pickup truck driver veered onto the sidewalk and plowed into the family, leaving the mother dead and the wife clinging to life at John Muir Medical Center, a grisly scene witnessed by guests and employees at a nearby hotel.
Sherry Hicks, 52, of Santa Barbara, was remembered Sunday as a loving mother, compassionate math teacher and soon-to-be grandmother by her expectant daughter.
Hicks came to the Bay Area over the weekend with her husband to visit her son and his wife, who were married this summer and moved here from Santa Barbara for work, said colleague and friend Susan Whitmore.
"She always went the extra mile," said Whitmore. "She was loved by all her students and will be greatly missed."
Authorities say Walnut Creek resident Hossein Tabrizi, 53, was driving south on North Main Street around 6:15 p.m. when his pickup truck somehow ended up on the sidewalk. The collision sent Hicks flying into a center median some 80 feet away and left the truck wedged between a streetlight pole and a retaining wall.
The truck was so smashed rescue personnel had to cut it open to get Tabrizi out. He was taken to the hospital and arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter
A memorial of two stuffed teddy bears flanked on each side by a bouquet of flowers was placed where the truck had come to a stop. A note on one of the bears said: "I am very sorry for your loss. Rest in peace dear lady."
Employees and guests at the Marriott Hotel witnessed the accident up-close, through hotel room windows and heard the crash from the lobby. One hotel employee said she and a hotel guest, who is a paramedic, rushed to Hicks within seconds of the crash.
With his mother dead and his wife badly hurt, she said, the son broke down on the sidewalk.
The wife, who is in her 20s, remained in "very critical" condition at Walnut Creek's John Muir Medical Center on Sunday, said Walnut Creek police Lt. Lanny Edwards.
The investigation into the crash continued Sunday as police released few details. Lanes of southbound North Main Street near the accident scene were blocked Sunday morning as a team of traffic investigators reconstructed the crash.
Edwards said it was too early to say if Tabrizi was speeding or if alcohol or drugs were a factor. He said police are investigating both possibilities.
Few details of Tabrizi were available Sunday. Attempts to reach him and his family were unsuccessful.
The crash was similar to an April incident in neighboring Concord that left a father and one of his daughters dead. David Rosen, 17, of Concord has since been charged with the deaths of Solaiman Nuri and his 9-year-old daughter, Hadessa. Another daughter was injured in the crash.
Rosen is expected to plead guilty later this month to felony vehicular manslaughter charges.
Back in Santa Barbara, Whitmore said her friend and colleague of more than a decade could never be replaced.
"She made an impact on a lot of young lives and that will never change," she said.