A Pleasanton elementary school teacher and her mother, who was a school custodian in San Ramon, died after their car plunged down a cliff in a Bodega Bay parking lot on Saturday, according to authorities.
The Sonoma County Coroner's Office identified the victims as Maria Teixeira, 64, and Elizabeth Correia, 41 -- both Dublin residents.
Correia, who grew up in Pleasanton and graduated from Foothill High School, taught first grade at Lydiksen Elementary School.
Her mother Teixeira was a long-time employee at the nearby San Ramon Valley Unified School District, working as lead custodian at Montevideo Elementary School in San Ramon.
The reason their SUV went through a parking lot barricade at a cliff's edge on the California coast late Saturday morning remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol's Santa Rosa office.
Montevideo principal Katie Witt shared the sad news with her school community on Monday, reacting to the sudden death "of our beloved school custodian, Maria Teixeira."
"I know that this news is difficult to receive. It has impacted all of us," Witt said. "For years, Mrs. Maria was a fixture in our community. She could be found on our campus every day doing whatever needed to be done to serve the community. Wherever there were people, wherever there was an activity, wherever there was someone who needed help, Mrs. Maria was there and willing to help. The kids loved her kind smile and reassuring presence. She will be greatly missed."
Lydiksen principal Jacob Berg also wrote his school community on Monday, saying it was "with great sadness that I inform you that Lydiksen teacher Elizabeth Correia passed away in a car accident on Saturday."
"It is very difficult for all of us to face the loss of one of our teachers. Upon our return to campus on Monday, April 12, a team of counselors and therapists will be at Lydiksen to provide support to students and staff," he added.
Both principals called out grief support resources available to their students and staffs, who are all away from campuses this week as both districts are on spring break.
The loss of mother and daughter is the latest emotional blow for the normally tight-knit education community in the Tri-Valley.
Dublin -- where Teixeira and Correia each lived -- is still recovering from the shocking death of school board Trustee Catherine Kuo, who was fatally struck by an SUV while volunteering to distribute food at Fallon Middle School on March 24.
The timing also hits close to home for the Pleasanton Unified School District, which four years ago mourned the sudden death of Pleasanton Middle School teacher Carla Boerman after a car crash in town just days into spring break in April 2017.
The situation in the West Bodega Head parking lot -- at the end of a scenic road off Highway 1 in coastal Sonoma County -- unfolded around 11 a.m. Saturday with multiple agencies responding to a report about a vehicle going down a cliff, according to the CHP.
The preliminary investigation indicates that the Toyota Rav4, with Teixeira behind the wheel, was driving westbound through the parking lot when, for unknown reasons, it struck a log barrier on the perimeter at the edge of the cliff, the CHP said.
The crossover SUV pushed the log barrier down before it too went over the cliff's edge and landed on the rocks approximately 100 feet below, according to the CHP. Bodega Bay Fire Protection District personnel tried to rappel down to rescue the two occupants, but both women were pronounced dead at the scene, fire officials said.
Eyewitnesses told officers it did not appear as though the Rav4 was speeding nor driving unsafely before the crash, according to the CHP.
The coroner's office confirmed the identities of the two victims publicly on Monday morning.
Correia worked at PUSD for the past 16 years, most recently as a first-grade teacher at Lydiksen Elementary on Highland Oaks Drive.
A Tri-Valley native who attended Pleasanton Middle and Foothill High schools as a teenager, Correia later earned her bachelor's degree and teaching credential at what is now Cal State East Bay. She enjoyed "teaching, reading, music, art, movies, Disneyland and spending time with friends and family," according to her biography on the Lydiksen website.
"Our hearts go out to Elizabeth Correia's family and our Lydiksen community. Elizabeth touched the lives of many of her students and colleagues. We will have support and counseling services available when school resumes next Monday," PUSD spokesman Patrick Gannon said Monday.
"Please keep our Lydiksen community and Elizabeth's family in your thoughts," Berg added in his letter. "In addition, please be assured that we will have a caring, certified substitute teacher to support and provide instruction to the students in Ms. Correia's class upon return from spring break."
Her mother, Teixeira, was a longtime and recognizable member of the Tri-Valley school community as well, working as a custodian at Montevideo Elementary on Broadmoor Drive in San Ramon since 2000.
"She was a wonderful part of our school community and was well-loved by staff, students and parents, alike," Witt wrote. "The passing of Mrs. Maria is profoundly sad to this community and to everyone who knew her ... Our love and support go out to Maria's entire family during this difficult time."
Investigators continue to seek out other witnesses to Saturday's crash and plan to complete a full vehicle inspection. Potential witnesses can contact CHP-Santa Rosa at 707-588-1400.
In addition to the CHP and local fire district, personnel from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, California State Parks and California Fish and Wildlife Department assisted in the response Saturday.
The fire district noted on social media that recent staffing changes due to its ongoing budget constraints left the Saturday morning shift working the crash incident with one position short, forcing reliance on mutual aid.
Editor's note: Information from the Bay City News Service was used in this report.