The early morning crash on Sunday, Oct. 14 in Montecito that killed Ruiz, 26, and another passenger "made everybody's life terrible," Ruiz' mother said last Thursday.
Ruiz, herself the mother of a 9-year-old boy, and Sara Elizabeth Pezzimenti, 21, of Palo Alto, were passengers in a Chevrolet Camaro being driven by Beau James Robertson, 29, of Palo Alto. According to the California Highway Patrol, Robertson was driving at about 2:15 a.m. on a road that parallels U.S. Highway 101 and attempted to make a right turn onto an overpass.
He lost control of the Camaro, the CHP reported, and the car jumped the curb and sidewalk, knocked out a metal railing and plunged off the overpass onto southbound 101.
It landed on its right side in the left lane, where it was struck by a Honda sedan occupied by a family of five, according to CHP Officer Don Clotworthy.
Ruiz and Pezzimenti were thrown from the vehicle, and both were killed instantly, the CHP reported. Robertson suffered head and internal injuries and was taken by ambulance to the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Three passengers of the Honda were also injured. Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
Robertson, now said to be in "fair" condition, faces charges of felony driving under the influence and felony gross vehicular manslaughter, according to a CHP press release.
Weaving between anger and grief, Ruiz' mother, Anita Henley, said she has "lost my precious little girl, and her son is losing his mother. This is all terrible."
She said she did not know the driver, but "I hope they throw the book at him. I hate him. It sounds like a murder. I'm angry. I feel sorry for that guy's parents, but this guy, he made everybody's life terrible."
However, Robin Pezzimenti, mother to Sara Pezzimenti, said Robertson was a good friend to her daughter. She said Sara had been in the Santa Barbara area to celebrate Robertson's birthday.
"I'm sure he would have never intentionally hurt her. It was an accident, and that's what I hope people remember," she said.
Henley describes her daughter as an exuberant woman with many friends.
"If you were down she always brought you up," Henley said.
Ruiz loved music and star emblems — on jewelry and other decorations — because "She wanted to be a star," Henley said.
Ruiz, who lived all but about two years of her life in Mountain View, was to start a new job as an administrative assistant this week, Henley said.
A memorial service for Ruiz was held Sunday at Spangler Mortuary in Mountain View.
Family, friends and coworkers are setting up a family and college fund for Ruiz's 9-year-old son, Tyson Garcia, at the Palo Alto Credit Union, 616 Ramona St., No. 3, Palo Alto, CA 94301.