Jennifer Garcia, a diversity outreach specialist with the Redwood Coast Regional Center, is being remembered by friends and colleagues for her zest for life, love of dance and dedication to making a difference in her community. She was 41.
“Sadly, her injuries were just too much, and she left us last evening. She is at peace and dancing with us in spirit now,” Colleen Gleason, coordinator of a GoFundMe page for Garcia, wrote in a Jan. 31 post. “Her family is heartbroken as you can imagine. Please continue to keep Jenn and them in your thoughts and prayers.”
The driver, a 29-year-old Arcata man, stayed at the scene and has been cooperating with police, Lt. Todd Dokweiler said. His failure to see Garcia and her child in the crosswalk appears to have been “the result of inattentiveness.”
“At this time we do not have any evidence to support the driver was traveling faster than the posted speed limit,” he said in an email to the Journal. “We do not have any definitive evidence or witnesses’ statements to indicate the driver was texting at the time of the collision.”
The child suffered minor injuries and was being cared for by bystanders when officers arrived before being released to his father, according to Dokweiler, who said evidence suggests it’s probable that she pushed the child to safety before being hit.
On the day of the crash, some 60 local Lao and Hmong households were provided with culturally appropriate food staples at a distribution event in Eureka, one of many efforts Garcia helped coordinate through her job at RCRC to make a difference in her community.
Garcia died one week later at an out-of-the area hospital where she was flown for treatment.