Two former Berkeley High students died in a head-on collision near Truckee on Tuesday afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Ross Schultz, 20, and Dixie Lewis, 19, were recent graduates.
The crash, which happened on Highway 89, was reported Tuesday at 3:20 p.m., according to the CHP. Both Schultz and Lewis were pronounced dead at the scene from the impact of the collision.
Schultz and Lewis were both athletes. Lewis, who graduated from Berkeley High in 2020, had finished her freshman year at Pomona College, where she was on the softball team and planned to major in neuroscience. Schultz, who played soccer for much of his life, was a member of the BHS two-time NCS Championship soccer team. He had just finished his second year at Cal Poly Pomona, where he studied kinesiology.
Lewis was the daughter of Michael Lewis, bestselling author of many books, including the recently published The Premonition: A Pandemic Story, and Tabitha Soren, a photographer and former political correspondent for MTV.
“We loved her so much and are in a kind of pain none of us has experienced,” Lewis said in a statement to Berkeleyside. “She loved Ross, with whom she died. She loved to live and our hearts are so broken they can’t find the words to describe the feeling. Her mother, Tabitha, and I, and her brother Walker and sister Quinn are going to find ways for her memory to live in her absence.”
Pomona College released a letter to its college community with statements from Soren and the softball coach.
“There is nothing Dixie wanted more in the world than to be on Pomona’s campus and play with her pals on the softball team for Coach Ferguson,” Soren said. “It was her dream and the culmination of so much training that she kept up with all through lockdown. Her virtual Pomona classmates helped her navigate the two COVID semesters and we will be forever grateful to them for forging bonds with our daughter through mere screens.”
Pomona-Pitzer softball coach Joanne Ferguson said the “team is “heartbroken.”
“As an athlete, Dixie quickly drew our attention due to her talents on the field – but once she joined our team, it was her warm spirit, positive energy and big smile that won our hearts. Dixie made a lasting positive impact on our team this year, and she will forever be part of the Sagehen softball family.”
The Schultz family has set up a CaringBridge site for the community to offer support and condolences.
“Our hearts are breaking in a way that is impossible to put into words. Ross brought happiness, laughter and joy to his family and his friends,” the Schultz family said in a statement shared with Berkeleyside. “His mother Gina, father Bart and brother Matt, along with his extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, will hold his memory dear and present and find ways to remember him, and Dixie, forever.”
Schultz and Lewis were traveling north on Highway 89 from Tahoe City toward Truckee when their 2014 Ford Fusion crossed the double yellow line of the highway and veered into oncoming traffic, according to CHP Officer Jacob Williams. A Freightliner truck traveling the opposite direction in the southbound lane collided with the sedan.
Both are believed to have died instantaneously from the impact of the crash. The driver of the truck, a 45-year-old Nevada man, suffered minor injuries. Authorities do not believe alcohol or drugs were factors in the collision.
The CHP’s Truckee Division is available by phone at 530-563-9200
It’s unclear why Schultz and Lewis’ car crossed into the southbound lane, Williams said. The CHP is looking for more witnesses to understand what led to the collision.
A Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson said, “This is a devastatingly sad moment for the Berkeley community. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of these young people and to everyone who has been impacted by this tragic loss.”
Correction: Ross Schultz attended Cal Poly Pomona, not Cal State Pomona.