Shockwaves ran through the community in Berkeley after two young people lost their lives in a fatal collision on Tuesday afternoon.
Ross Schultz, 20, and Dixie Lewis, 19, were killed in a head-on crash on Highway 89 near Truckee after their 2014 Ford Fusion veered in front of a Freightliner truck headed the opposite direction. Both were pronounced dead at the scene from the impact of the collision.
Friends and community members grieved the loss of the two recent Berkeley High alumni online, sharing memories on social media and on a CaringBridge site set up by the Schultz family.
“There are no words to describe how I feel,” Philip Dierks wrote in a comment on Berkeleyside. “Ross was the most kind-hearted human being I have ever met. Everyone loved him so much. I have known him since elementary school, and the bond that he and I shared is indescribable.”
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. “She loved to live and our hearts are so broken they can’t find the words to describe the feeling,” Michael Lewis wrote in a statement to Berkeleyside.
Teammates and coaches describe Lewis, who graduated from Berkeley High in 2020, as a fiery natural leader, as devoted a student as she was an athlete. Recruited to play softball at Pomona College, Lewis had just finished her first year as an undergraduate.
“I never had to question whether Dixie was giving it her all. She was a workhorse. She pushed herself, she pushed her teammates to be the best that they could be,” said Erika Racklin, who coached Lewis at Berkeley High and on the club softball team, Berkeley and Albany Sting, since Lewis was eight years old.
This spring, Lewis had started coaching softball for Albany High School. “It was a proud moment for me, watching her go out there and encourage her kids,” Racklin said. Throughout the past year, Lewis also coached a handful of middle-school-aged softball players.
“All these girls had a stellar role model to look up to in Dixie; they’ve each lost a powerful mentor,” Dale Rose, whose 12-year-old daughter was coached by Lewis, wrote in an email. “Many people are losing a fantastic coach and mentor to the younger generation of the East Bay,” said friend and teammate Sydney Taylor.
Friends remembered Lewis as generous and mature beyond her years, welcoming friends into her home for extended stays when they were going through a hard time and setting aside her own needs to help others.
“She was like a role model to me even though we’re the same age,” said Indigo Carlson, who spent two months living with Lewis in Laguna Beach this fall when Carlson was struggling with mental health. “She just did everything she could to make me feel so happy. She put her own troubles and dilemmas aside and was just completely there for me.”
“She was very generous with her love. She was someone that I know that I could call at any time of day that she would be there, regardless of where I was,” Taylor said.
Lewis died with her long-time boyfriend, Ross Schultz, a sophomore at Cal Poly Pomona who had played soccer in Berkeley since childhood, including on NCS Championship soccer teams at Berkeley High.
Friends, teachers, and coaches described Schultz as kind, intelligent, and joyous, always donning a characteristic, infectious smile and making others laugh. He was a loyal friend and boyfriend, and a soccer player committed to improving his game.
“Ross loved his friends and he loved his family. And boy, did Ross love Dixie, who died with him,” the Schultz family said in a statement to Berkeleyside. The couple had been together since Lewis’s sophomore year of high school.
“As mischievous and silly and always laughing and goofing around as he was, he had this whole other side to him simultaneously. He would just work and work and work to get what he wanted,” said J.T. Thomas, who coached Schultz on the Mavericks, a club soccer team. “He always had a sparkle in his eye, but he was a fierce competitor.”
“In every way, Ross brought joy, laughter, and a sense of community wherever he went,” Sharon Arthur, Schultz’s sixth-grade teacher, wrote in an email, adding that he was an ambitious student. “He never shied away from a challenge, and brought his friends along with him.”
“My heart is in so much disbelief about this brother from John Muir to Willard to Berkeley High,” Armani May, Schultz’s friend, wrote in an email.
“He was always quick with a smile or an insightful question. He never failed to brighten the room with his humor and mellow demeanor,” Tim Zolezzi, Schultz’s world history teacher, wrote in an email.
Berkeley High’s restorative justice coordinators held a virtual Remembrance Circle for current students and staff Friday afternoon in honor of Schultz and Lewis. Memorial services have not been announced.