Mountain View woman identified in double fatal crash


Two people died in a fiery head-on collision on Highway 85 caused by a wrong-way driver early Friday morning, Sept. 13, according to the California Highway Patrol.

They were identified as 27-year-old Sarah Renazco of Mountain View and 35-year-old Safa Ngo of American Canyon, the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office said on Sunday.

CHP officials said Renazco was driving south in the northbound lanes of Highway 85 near Evelyn Avenue in a 2018 Ford vehicle shortly before 12:55 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 13.

The early investigation found that she struck Ngo, who was heading northbound in a head-on collision, flipping the Ford on its side. Initial reports said the vehicle was smoking, and when CHP officers arrived, it was fully engulfed in flames.

Renazco did not appear to be wearing a seatbelt and was trapped inside the Ford after the collision. Ngo was wearing a seatbelt but still suffered fatal injuries.

Both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene, CHP officials said. Neither vehicle had passengers.

All lanes of Highway 85 were closed during the investigation and clean-up, with traffic being diverted to Evelyn Avenue.

Renazco's Facebook page indicates she most recently worked for the Army's 7th Psychological Operations Group based at Moffett Field and was a staff member at Escondido Elementary in Palo Alto during the 2018-19 school year. Her family created a GoFundMe donation page Sunday to support Renazco's wife and two children. The page had received $16,270 in donations as of Monday morning.

CHP officials say it's unclear whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the collision. Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to call Officer Ricky Patlan Jr. at 650-369-6261.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


21 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 13, 2019 at 1:06 pm

Gary is a registered user.

The wrong-way driver was probably intoxicated. Being dead, she will not be prosecuted criminally. But her "estate" could be sued. Not by the man she killed but by his "estate" (as represented) and any dependents. Did the wrong-way driver even have a license or any insurance? The minimum insurance is $15,000. A bit low.

3 people like this
Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2019 at 2:10 pm

AC is a registered user.

I've been trying to visualize how the wrong-way driver got onto the northbound side. What ramp did they use, etc? It frankly boggles my brain.

I'm guessing it was the 85 exit ramp to Evelyn, which ends at a stoplight.
But still, in the US, what ramp egresses onto the left hand lane (which is not part of a big overpass interchange)?

So sad.

14 people like this
Posted by SS
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Sep 13, 2019 at 2:22 pm

I'd guess intoxication is a likely cause... if you DID mistakenly drive up a ramp the wrong way, wouldn't you realize as you approached the freeway that you were entering on the wrong side of the lanes? Only if you were sober, perhaps.
Pity that an innocent victim was taken along with the offending driver.

13 people like this
Posted by terrible tragedy for innocent driver
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Sep 13, 2019 at 2:27 pm

"its unclear whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the collision"

I would say it's crystal terrible for the driver who was in wrong place at the wrong time.

19 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Background checks should be required before anyone is allowed to drive a motor vehicle. Motor vehicles kill more innocent victims than do fire arms.

8 people like this
Posted by Mtn Man
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 13, 2019 at 3:24 pm

I have seen a wrong way driver make a right turn from Moffett Blvd. onto the 85 to Moffett Blvd. off-ramp before. The couple did not look intoxicated but they definitely had some bad information. I do not know what happened after this. I did not hear that there was an accident. It was night time when this happened. I tried honking at them to get their attention but they did not hear me. This was about a year ago.

1 person likes this
Posted by Again and Again
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Don't worry John, after people pass the written test, then the in-car driving test, the DMV in fact does background checks for warrants. Everyone.
Good joke though. ha.

Tragic situation, this main topic. Looks like another 2 lives lost to alcohol consumption. So many alcohol dispensaries in MV open until the very early morning hours. It'll happen again and gain until people get fed up enough.

11 people like this
Posted by Alex M
a resident of Willowgate
on Sep 13, 2019 at 3:51 pm

Alex M is a registered user.

I have to admit, a couple of times in my life I have found myself confused and going the wrong way on an exit ramp. This can happen when you are sober and alert. Someone else mentioned that this is possible at the 85-Moffet traffic light. I live near there but never got confused there, although it certainly is possible and easy to make that mistake at that intersection. When it's happened to me, I realized my mistake well before I ever got onto the freeway, and if I ever did get onto the freeway, it would have been immediately obvious to me that something is amiss and I'd pull onto the shoulder immediately.

15 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2019 at 4:02 pm

Rest in Peace to the dead and condolences to their survivors.

5 people like this
Posted by Liberalguns
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 13, 2019 at 5:14 pm

@Again and Again
"Don't worry John,... the DMV in fact does background checks for warrants. Everyone. Good joke though. ha."

It's not as much of a "joke" as you assume.
Checking for "active warrants" is good, but many states don't even post those in a manner that all other states can check. California background checks miss serious past violations all the time.

I personally know of 3 cases where drivers with multiple prior DUI's were still granted the PRIVILEGE of a drivers license here in California and then killed people in yet another DUI. One case happened a few years ago when someone (my wife worked with) killed an entire family.
These "background checks" systems are only as good as the data that gets reported to the appropriate government agencies.

The same goes for preventing firearms sales to known criminals.
Most of the disqualifying information that would stop a firearms sale is still not being reported to the FBI. Even though both Federal and state laws require this information to be reported.

Worse yet, even though the FBI claims that millions of disqualified people lie every year on their applications to buy a firearm (an additional Federal Felony by the way), virtually none of those millions of criminals ever get arrested or prosecuted for this new crime. Criminals who illegally try to buy a gun from a lawful dealer are supposed to be arrested, prosecuted and sent to Federal prison of 5-15 years.

So, I know it's a crime to drive without a valid license, but is it also a crime to lie in order to get a license?

13 people like this
Posted by Joel Lachter
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 13, 2019 at 6:00 pm

Joel Lachter is a registered user.

Like Alex M, I have been uncomfortably close to doing this a couple times while perfectly sober. Where I have gone even farther and what I suspect happened here, was listening to my navigation system saying “turn right" when, in fact, I should have turned right twenty yards earlier or later. I think it is too early to decide that this was alcohol related.

Like this comment
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 13, 2019 at 9:11 pm

Gary is a registered user.

Good points. But I did suggest the woman had "probably" been intoxicated. By the way, if you want to avoid drunk drivers, one place you may want to avoid in 2020 and beyond is downtown Los Altos. The City Council there just approved some absurd amendments to its downtown core zoning ordinance moving "cocktail lounges" from a possible "conditional" use to an automatically permitted use. How about 30 cocktail lounges - and a couple of childcare centers to stash the kids? And one last point. Mr. Liberalgun: at the end of the last Mountain View City Council meeting, the Council voted 7-0 to agendize "gun safety" such as the ordinance passed a few years ago in Sunnyvale. It is not on the next (Sept. 17) Council agenda but will be arriving at a meeting this year. Get ready to rumble - verbal assaults only.

6 people like this
Posted by DoctorData
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 13, 2019 at 11:47 pm

DoctorData is a registered user.

Don’t flatter yourself, “Lots of”. Near as I can tell everyone out here is a horrible driver. Including you and me. For a state so heavily dependent on the car, it’s incredible how badly the road system was designed and how badly its drivers use it.

7 people like this
Posted by Wanted to add...
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2019 at 11:47 am

Random but related.... Back in the day (don't know if this is still being done) if you drove the wrong way on a major road/freeway at night the reflector "dots" show red.

Whether she made a mistake or was drunk, she killed a man. RIP to the victim. Condolences to his family.

8 people like this
Posted by Not so
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 14, 2019 at 11:57 am

@ Again and Again- not true re the background checks. I know from personal experience w a family member that DUIs don’t necessarily follow you from one state to the next. You can get a drivers license in Calif despite having prior DUIs on your record.

@Gary - Are you opposed to having cocktail lounges in downtown Los Altos? I don’t get your point. Are you suggesting that the presence of a bar = drunk drivers on the road?

3 people like this
Posted by OldGuy
a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 14, 2019 at 5:39 pm

OldGuy is a registered user.

I also was curious about how the wrong-way driver entered 85. Since the detour was at Evelyn (and also other reports placed the accident on the bridge over the Central Expressway), the entry must have occurred at Moffett, or at Shoreline, which I think is also possible, though maybe unlikely.

14 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 14, 2019 at 5:49 pm

If I had to guess, the woman got drunk at a downtown MV bar, took Castro to Moffett and right onto 85 the wrong-way. But the odds are otherwise. As to the guy who questions whether bars contribute to the number of drunk drivers on the road, the answer is YES. That does not mean we should eliminate bars or other places for consuming alcohol not at home. But it is a societal cost that many patrons will drive away under the influence of alcohol. As to downtown Los Altos, allowing bars in any number and without conditions is unwise. Bars should have remained a "conditional use" that could be regulated. Maybe the City Council will think again - one hopes before 30 bars move in.

10 people like this
Posted by Thank you for your Service
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 16, 2019 at 1:38 pm

From her public FB page she was currently serving in the US Army and leaves behind a young son and wife.
Heart wrenching.
RIP soldier.

14 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 16, 2019 at 2:43 pm

The go fund me page is interesting. Wouldn't it have been more appropriate for the friends and family to start a fund for the innocent driver that she killed while (likely) driving drunk?

4 people like this
Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 16, 2019 at 2:45 pm

As long there are fallible humans behind the wheel, some sober and others drunk, we need roads that make it hard to make lethal mistakes. It's easier to change the roads than to change human nature.

5 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 16, 2019 at 2:52 pm

@ Martin - Seriously? It's pretty hard to enter a freeway going the wrong way without knowing it (unless you're plastered). Let's not blame the roads for a driver exercising bad judgement.

23 people like this
Posted by J
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2019 at 2:59 pm

@ hmmmm
Was just thinking the same thing. There’s literally nothing in here about the victim. All about how wonderful the killer is. Sure she was a good woman but I had to double check she was the one driving the wrong way and taking an innocent life!

Guess they need a GFM for when the estate gets sued.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 16, 2019 at 3:01 pm

@3 - That's exactly what I was thinking...

26 people like this
Posted by Dan Walker
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2019 at 4:09 pm

I have know this young lady from the age of 15, She worked for me and had overcome extreme adversities at a young age that most people would not have made it thru. She never had a drinking issue and I hope this was just a bad accident. I feel very bad for all that was involved and my condolences go out to both families. This young lady was a great example of how someone can change there path with hard work and perseverance. I am sure the other victim was also a very special person and their family will miss him. Our lives can change so fast and in a split second, makes you want to try to be a better person at the moment never knowing what could happen. Before you assume alcohol was a factor lets see what the results are. She sent a picture of herself that night having a coke. This was a tragic accident that will have its effects on both families forever.

13 people like this
Posted by Janet Noeller
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 16, 2019 at 6:47 pm

Regarding the Go-Fund me account for the wrong- way driver - if the young woman's friends want to contribute to one to help with burial costs and her young child's care, I don't see anything inappropriate about it. Regardless of the tragic circumstances of the accident, there were many people who loved her, will grieve for her, and this is their way of showing support to her family. I imagine the other driver's family and friends will have their own Go-Fund me account for him as well, as they should.

9 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 16, 2019 at 7:48 pm

Gary is a registered user.

Where was she trying to go? Home? Where is home? What street? If she entered 85 the wrong way at Moffett, she might not have noticed anything unusual in light traffic at that hour on Friday night (Saturday morning: 1 am). It is a long freeway exit that she would have been using as an entrance. When she hit the freeway, she might not have seen oncoming cars as the northbound traffic climbs a hill starting at Evelyn. So apart from answering the question of whether intoxicants are found in her body, the City should consider putting lights around the WRONGWAY SIGN on Moffett (coming from downtown or Middlefield) at the intersection likely involved. .

9 people like this
Posted by Good Grief
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2019 at 8:21 pm

Lots of certainty from smug folks who have somehow **divined** that the wrong-way driver was drunk, when the truth is that it's darned easy to do.

Case in point: NB Union onto NB 85. The left turn onto the freeway leads directly onto the exit ramp. The NB on-ramp is another 20 yards ahead. Factor in some yerk in a lifted pickup with his brights hitting every mirror and blinding me, and I almost did the same thing myself just last night. No alcohol involved. I like to think I would have noticed when, in fact, the only reason I noticed was because Truck Guy whipped around me - middle finger flying - and illuminated the exit sign instead of my mirrors.

15 people like this
Posted by A friend
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2019 at 11:03 pm

Please don’t make assumptions about the “offending” driver. I am a friend of that driver’s wife and can only imagine the pain she and their two children are experiencing right now. It’s easy to assume an anonymous driver must have been negligent and irresponsible, but when they are connected with someone you know - when you’ve seen the love they had for their family, for their children - you assume the best, not the worst. Please stop defiling someone you don’t know just because you have the luxury of total detachment. Please. It’s painful. Everyone involved was someone’s loved one - and it could just as easily been someone you knew.

6 people like this
Posted by Debra McGibbon
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 16, 2019 at 11:14 pm

Debra McGibbon is a registered user.

While in the SF Bay Area there are few, if any, freeway entrances where one enters onto the left hand side of a freeway, they do exist in the Los Angeles area. They spook me every time. Regarding this accident...late at night, without other cars to provide visual cues, a tired driver not familiar with a particular freeway entrance could make a wrong way error. It has been known to happen even on 280.

4 people like this
Posted by Viewer
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 17, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Check out this exit ramp from 85N to W Evelyn on Google Earth then compare it to the entrance ramp from W Evelyn to 85S. Use the street view feature. They are remarkably similar. The exit ramp has one “Wrong Way” sign at the beginning but none after that. I am not saying alcohol was not a factor here, but this ramp could use more warnings and safeguards especially as others have mentioned that visitors have almost made the same mistake.

9 people like this
Posted by Gunn High School Student
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2019 at 5:39 pm

I am a former student of Sarah Renazco's wife, Daisy Renazco. Ms. Renazco is one of the most kind and caring teachers that I've ever had. She makes class fun and has a genuine interest in each and every student. Regardless of whether her wife caused the accident or not, she deserves nothing less than our fullest support and love during this difficult time. It breaks my heart to hear people saying that raising money for her is a total waste, so please stop.

2 people like this
Posted by Educator
a resident of another community
16 hours ago

The talk among the educational community is that allegedly a group of educators were at karaoke with her and there was steady drinking on the part of the young lady. There was allegedly an attempt to get her not to drive and take an Uber. The attempt was unsuccessful. The rest we already know about. The lesson is the same tired lesson as always when it comes to alcohol. It's all very tragic, especially for the victim that was killed.

3 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
5 hours ago

Gary is a registered user.

This online investigatioon is making progress. Where was she drinking? With whom? Where was she headed? When can we expect the toxicology report showing her BA (blood-alcohol level)? The family of the dead driver going the RIGHT WAY on Highway 85 will need that information to sue the woman's "estate" AND any accomplices who contributed her driving while intoxicated. If the WRONG-WAY driver had any insurance, it is probably too low to pay much. But let's find out.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Su Hong Palo Alto's last day of business will be Sept. 29
By Elena Kadvany | 20 comments | 6,205 views

Premarital, Women Over 50 Do Get Married
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,956 views

Electric Buses: A case study
By Sherry Listgarten | 2 comments | 1,812 views

Natural Wines?
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 1,731 views



On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Register now