Humboldt County Deputy Coroner Roy Horton today released the names of the dead in a traffic accident on State Route 36 east of Hydesville that authorities are calling the deadliest the county's seen in 12 years: Daniel Morris, 40; Judy Wheeler, 13; Wheeler's mother, Alicia Summerfield, 32; and Savanna Ramirez, 20.
Horton said he believes they are all from Fortuna. He said they all died of blunt force trauma.
"Identifying them was tough, they were coming from Ruth Lake and all had swimsuits on and no identification," Horton said, adding telling their families was one of the worst notifications the Humboldt County Coroner's Office has ever done.
All four were traveling westbound on State Route 36, just east of Fisher Road, in a 2002 Dodge Dakota pickup truck at approximately 4:30 p.m. Sunday when the truck veered to the right, leaving the roadway and driving head-on into a tree, according to a California Highway Patrol press release. The four were pronounced dead at the scene. Four other remaining occupants were transported to Redwood Memorial Hospital with major injuries. The CHP is investigating the accident.