Two sisters, well-known in the Atascadero running community and at Chico State, were the victims of a fatal semi-truck crash in California in January. The girls were returning to Chico State after the holiday break when they were involved in a collision with a big rig and died.
California is one of the most dangerous states in the nation when it comes to semi-truck accidents, and those accidents are often fatal for passenger vehicle occupants.
Sisters Killed in Accident on Highway 198 Remembered as Being “Like Twins”
January 16, 2018
Twenty-year-old Brittni Frace and 22-year-old Brynn Frace were headed back to Chico State following time at home in Paso Robles over the holidays. When they returned to the university, they were to start the spring semester. Brittni planned to continue with her role on the track team, while Brynn offered constant support and involvement for her sister and the team. A collision with a semi-truck on Highway 198, however, changed all that.
The sisters, traveling in a 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe, stopped for gas while still on Highway 198, not far from Interstate 5. Brynn Frace got back behind the wheel after fueling up and pulled up to a stop sign at around 10:00 a.m. so she could get back on Highway 198 going east. It was as she pulled out that that the Tahoe collided with a 2014 Peterbilt tractor-trailer traveling west at approximately 40 miles per hour. Brittni Frace was pronounced dead at the scene. Fifty-two-year-old Terry Lee Keeling, an Exeter man who was driving the semi-truck, was uninjured in the crash.
Investigation into Fresno County Truck Accident Still Ongoing
California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Steve Schuh said that officials believe they understand how the accident occurred, but that some questions remain.
“It’s still under investigation, but it’s pretty cut and dry what happened out on the scene, with the Chevy Tahoe at the private driveway there at the gas station pulling out into the right-of-way of the big rig coming down Highway 98,” Schuh told the Paso Robles Press.
Investigators were unable to find out further information on why Brynn Frace had pulled out or what other factors might have influenced her driving, because she was critically injured in the crash and unable to speak with investigators. They do know neither drugs nor alcohol were factors and that both sisters were wearing seatbelts.
“The driver [was] injured, and not able to give a statement and [we really don’t know] what she saw or didn’t see, unfortunately,” Schuh explained.
Brynn Frace was transported to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno for treatment and remained on life support there until she passed away from her injuries on January 18, 2018, two days after the Fresno County truck accident.
Sisters Lost in Big Rig Crash Were Attending Chico State and Loved Track
Atascadero High School Track Coach Roger Warnes spoke about the sisters while Brynn was still on life support, recalling their bond and spirit.
“Both of them mean the world to so many people in Atascadero and San Luis Obispo,” Warnes said. “It’s just a really, really heartbreaking time for everyone. Brittni was probably one of the happiest, spirited lovers of life that you could ever meet. So is Brynn. Both of those sisters together, they’re more like twins.”
Brynn began her college years at Humboldt State but had recently transferred to Chico State to be closer to Brittni. Gary Towne, Brittni’s coach at Chico State, said it wouldn’t be long before the sisters—both excellent runners—would be on the team together.
“I think Brynn was aspiring to run on the team and she was on the cusp of being able to do that right before this all happened,” Towne said.
Jeremy Grigsby also graduated from Atascadero High School and ran with both Brittni and Brynn while at the school. He remembered what the girls were to each other and what they gave to others.
“The bond they had was inseparable,” Grigsby said in an interview with The San Luis Obispo Tribune. “You run together. You become a family. That’s how it works. And they held down a big portion of it just by being them. They were always just vibrant. Every race, every practice was enlightening with them.”
Memorial Services to Be Held in Atascadero for Victims of Semi Crash
Friends and family will gather on January 26, 2018, at Atascadero Bible Church to say goodbye to Brittni and Brynn and to celebrate their lives. Despite the tragic end to the sisters’ lives, the family wants it to be a happy occasion and a remembrance of the girls’ personalities. Attendees have been asked not to wear black, but to dress colorfully and casually. After the service at the church, people will gather at the Atascadero High School Track to recount happy memories of the girls and walk the track.
The family hopes to one day honor the sisters’ memory with a fundraiser and a possible race on their behalf. They’ve even found a title for the run, one that celebrates the flowers the girls loved to pick and put in their hair. The run would be called “The Flower Run.”
Running was an ongoing theme in both Brittni and Brynn’s lives, and on the day that Brynn died, the Highlands Church in Paso Robles shared a Facebook post that they said the girls’ mother, Shari Frace, asked them to put up. One verse was listed in the post, from 2 Timothy 4:7. It read, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”