Two people who died in a crash down an embankment near Fallbrook over the weekend were identified by family Wednesday as a veteran and a mother of four.
Retired U.S. Marine Rico Burley, 42 of Fallbrook, and his girlfriend, April Dawn Wigand, 39 of Oceanside, were pronounced dead after being ejected from their sports car that crashed into a tree along Old Highway 395 near Reche Road on Sunday, the California Highway Patrol.
Wigand was described as an upbeat and optimistic person who "kept persevering through any sort of challenges that she had."
Wigand's father, mother, siblings and had not yet processed the loss when they spoke with NBC 7 days following the crash.
"She leaves a big hole in our hearts for sure," the father said.
But their main concern was her four children.
"They're struggling. They're devastated. It's only been a couple of days,” he said. "You just can’t replace your mother."
According to first responders, Burley was driving in southbound lanes when he attempted to pass other vehicles by crossing into northbound lanes of the two-lane road. Oncoming traffic caused him to swerve back into southbound lanes and lose control.
The car fell 30-feet down an embankment and crashed into a tree, the force of which split the vehicle in half.
Both people were ejected from the car and pronounced dead at the scene, North County Fire spokesperson John Choi said.
California Highway Patrol was handling the investigation. It was unknown if alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash.