SUNNYVALE — Erica Stiles was a "contagiously happy" woman who took a chance a few years ago with her partner and started West Coast Classics and Customs car shop, friends say.
"In a short period of time, they changed a lot of people's lives," said Kimberly Verity, who met Stiles and her partner Brian Gomez when they set up the shop. Verity recalled approaching them and talking to them about their mutual appreciation for old automobiles. They became fast friends.
Stiles, who lived in Mountain View, was struck and killed in front of the shop on El Camino Real around 5:15 p.m. Thursday as she crossed the street after walking to the bank. She and her Gomez had just come back from a five-day trip, Verity said. She was 47.
The driver of the vehicle remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, Sunnyvale police Capt. Carl Rushmeyer said. There were no updates to the investigation on Friday.
Verity said Gomez and the employees of the store saw the aftermath of the crash and "everybody's doing the best they can," but they're devastated.
Verity said that Stiles and Gomez had an entrepreneurial spirit that couldn't be dampened by the tough economic times when they opened their shop, which specializes in selling vintage vehicles and customizing old rides.
They worked hard, she said, and soon found a following among Silicon Valley car buffs, who would gather at the shop monthly for the camaraderie of the popular Cars and
"People saw how they took a risk and were inspired," Verity said. "They began their business which in some small way gave Sunnyvale a larger sense of community in a time when people needed it most."
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.