Friday, 19 April 2024

Family continues recovery in wake of April 9 crash

LAKE COUNTY – Members of a family whose vehicle was hit as they were traveling to the airport last Friday are continuing to recover after sustaining serious injuries and losing one of their relatives to the crash.


The two-car, head-on collision outside of Nice last Friday took the life of Sandra K. Thomas, 65, of Noblesville, Ind., injured her husband, James, 64, as well as their daughter, Sarah Noguera, 33, of Ukiah, and Noguera's two young children and her husband, Adonis Noguera, 37, as Lake County News has reported.


Matt Thomas, James and Sandra Thomas' son and Sarah Noguera's brother, has flown out to California to take care of his family, which he said is doing OK and is on the mend. His sister, father and young nephew have all undergone surgeries to address their injuries.


Sarah Noguera was driving her parents to the Sacramento airport following a visit, according to family friends. The Thomases were scheduled to fly home to Indiana on Saturday.


Along the way, just outside of the town of Nice, Noguera's 2001 Ford Escape was hit by a Dodge Caravan driven by Maria Prado, 47, of Clearlake, according to the California Highway Patrol.


Prado's minivan had gone off the highway and up an embankment before veering back across the roadway and hitting Noguera's vehicle. The CHP is continuing to investigate the crash's cause, but a preliminary report indicated that alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors.


James Thomas and Sarah Noguera both were flown by REACH Air Ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.


On Monday, hospital spokesperson Katy Hillenmeyer said James Thomas was in critical condition and Sarah Noguera was in serious condition.


Adonis Noguera and the Nogueras' 5-year-old daughter were treated at Sutter Lakeside Hospital for moderate injuries, while the couple's 4-year-old son was flown by Cal Star air ambulance to Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland for treatment of major injuries.


Friends and neighbors of the couple are mourning the death of Sandra Thomas, who they remembered as a kind, generous woman, a retired elementary school teacher who survived breast cancer and enjoyed traveling with her husband.


Velda Boenitz, who got the news of the crash over the weekend, called it “unreal.”


Randy Gerber has been a neighbor of the Thomases for many years, and attends the same church. He said the couple lived on a seven-acre property in Noblesville, with is about a half-hour drive north of Indianapolis.


Gerber said Sarah Noguera had relocated to Ukiah about a year ago. She's the general manager of Ukiah's Hampton Inn, while her husband is an accomplished ceramics artist.


Gerber said the Thomases were in California for a visit with their daughter. They had been looking forward to enjoying their retirement and traveling more.


Sandra Thomas was a retired second grade teacher who was learning about falconry from her husband, Gerber said.


“They'd do anything for you,” he said. “Everybody loves them.”


Gerber got the news about Sandra Thomas' death the morning after the crash. Right now, he said, friends and neighbors are pitching in to help the family however they can.


“She'll definitely be missed,” he said of his neighbor and friend.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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