Five children must sadly spend the upcoming holidays without their loving mother due to a deadly DUI accident. The tragedy occurred this past Monday evening in Sonora, California.
Melissa Katherine Marie Patania, 33, and four of her children were traveling eastbound on Phoenix Lake Road when their Suzuki SUV was tragically hit. At approximately 6:15 p.m., a Toyota pickup truck struck them head-on, causing serious damage. The suspect, identified as 19-year-old Augustus Matthew Marinovich, had been traveling westbound dangerously fast at the time of the crash. Reports stated that the driver lost control of his truck before swerving and slamming into the victim’s vehicle.
Patania suffered from severe injuries as a result of the hit. When emergency personnel arrived, they attempted life-saving measures, but it proved to do little given Patania’s state. They transported her to a nearby hospital where she later died. Her four children, ages 6 to 13, were all airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center with serious injuries. Some of them have since undergone multiple surgeries.
According to CHP, Marinovich also suffered major injuries from the impact of the collision. Emergency personnel provided medical treatment to stabilize his condition. Soon after, authorities placed him under arrest and charged him with a felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter.
Looking Toward Recovery
Fortunately, the four children are stabilized and recovering from this traumatic event. They may, however, never recover from losing their only parent. A GoFundMe page has been set up by Melissa Patania’s family to help with expenses. Her mother made it clear that her primary focus is now helping her grandchildren survive this. She stated, “we are going to fight for those kids and we are going to raise them and they are never going to forget their mother.”
It is unfortunate that this family had to go through such a traumatic experience. This tragedy may serve as a reminder to not drink and drive – for the safety of others and of yourself. There are other accessible alternatives that should be utilized after a night out drinking. Due to this young man’s decision to drive, multiple people’s lives have been changed forever, including his own.