(KRON) — A Santa Cruz County man who was killed in a harrowing cliff crash at Pescadero State Beach last week was identified by his family. Nicolas Laron Vargas, 29, of Watsonville, was a backseat passenger inside a Kia when the car went off Highway 1, plunged over a beach cliff, and landed 100 feet below in the ocean on October 12.
The Kia was partially submerged in the water due to the ocean’s high tide, the California Highway Patrol said.
Madeline St. Pierre, 22, of Arcata, Calif., was behind the wheel of the Kia when it crashed at 9:55 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.
St. Pierre and her front seat passenger, 22-year-old Elyse Pickart of Arcata, Calif., were transported to Stanford Medical Center. Vargas was pronounced deceased by San Mateo County Fire paramedics at 10:20 p.m.
St. Pierre suffered major injuries. CHP officers arrested St. Pierre on charges of DUI causing injury, as well as vehicular manslaughter. “It does appear that alcohol and/or drugs was a factor in this crash,” the CHP wrote in its crash incident report.
The CHP investigated what led up to the beach cliff crash. The CHP said officers determined that the Kia had been traveling westbound on Pescadero Creek Road at an unknown speed, east of Highway 1.
“The driver of the Kia failed to slow or stop at the intersection of Pescadero Creek Road and SR-1 and continued westbound through the intersection towards the ocean. The Kia drove off the cliff, a drop of approximately 100 feet, where it landed on the beach on its wheels,” CHP Officer Lu wrote.
Vargas was the father of a baby who was born less than a year before the crash.