A Gilroy woman faces charges of manslaughter and driving under the influence after allegedly causing a car accident Saturday that killed her husband and 26-year-old daughter, the California Highway Patrol said.
The woman, 51-year-old Stacy Lonnberg, was driving north on Highway 85 near Winchester Boulevard in Los Gatos around 3:45 p.m. Saturday when she attempted “an unsafe lane change at a high rate of speed,” causing her 2002 Toyota Tacoma pickup to sideswipe a Chevrolet Silverado, the CHP said.
The Tacoma rolled multiple times, coming to rest on its wheels. Tiffiny Gillette, Stacy Lonnberg’s daughter, was sitting in the back seat and was ejected, the CHP said. Gillette, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene, the CHP said.
The driver’s husband, 67-year-old Fred Lonnberg, who is Gillette’s stepfather, also died from injuries sustained in the crash. He was extracted and transported to Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 11 p.m., the CHP said.
A young child, Gillette’s son Ethan, survived the crash without injury. CHP reports stated the boy was 1 year old, though Jennifer Glowniak – a friend of Gillette who said she’s Ethan’s godmother – told the Dispatch he’s 3.
One woman, who asked not to be identified, said she was at the scene of the accident and was among those “rendering aid.” The woman, who said she was too upset over the accident to speak on the phone, wrote in an email that she helped stabilize Stacy Lonnberg and kept Gillette’s young son in her car while emergency crews tended to the crash. She described the situation as “awful” and didn’t want to didn’t want to explore further detail.
“I still have baby Ethan’s shoes,” said the woman, who’s trying to contact the family to return them and find out the young boy’s condition.
Calls to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office seeking comment as to whether Stacy Lonnberg will be charged and when she’ll appear in court were not returned as of press time because of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.
Stacy Lonnberg received minor injuries. She was still in custody as of Monday afternoon, according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. No one in the Silverado was injured, and there were no other arrests, according to the CHP.
The Dispatch was unable to reach the Lonnbergs’ immediate family members as of press time.
On Saturday, CHP officer DJ Sarabia offered stern words regarding Stacy Lonnberg when he spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle.
“She killed her daughter and her husband,” he told the newspaper. “She almost killed her grandson, too.”
In an email sent to the Dispatch on Monday, Glowniak said it didn’t shock her to learn Stacy Lonnberg may have been drunk at the time of the wreck.
“It really does not surprise me that Stacy was under the influence, because it is a serious problem she has always had,” Glowniak wrote. “She tried to hide it from them (her daughter and husband) all the time. Stashing alcohol in water bottles behind her truck seat … pretty nuts. Tiffiny would talk to me about her mom’s drinking, and how hard it was on the family.”
Stacy Lonnberg’s husband, Fred Lonnberg, had made his mark in South County serving at the president of the Pacific Penning and Sorting Association, headquartered in San Martin, according to current President Ron Lowery.
Fred Lonnberg had been a member of the association for six years, Lowery said. Lowery described him as “an avid horseman” and “just a good guy.”
“He was a very soft-spoken guy. He never wanted any friction with anyone. He was always very friendly,” Lowery said. “He worked very hard for our club.”
Several of Gillette’s friends shared fond memories of their late friend Monday.
“She was a great person and she did not deserve this, nor did Ethan, and the rest of her family,” wrote Jenna McKenzie, a longtime friend of Gillette, in an email.
Gillette graduated from Hillsdale High School in San Mateo in 2003, McKenzie said. McKenzie said Gillette spent much of her time working at Ulta Hair Salon in San Bruno, becoming, in her opinion, one of the best stylists in the area.
“… I knew I was never going to want anyone else doing my hair again …” McKenzie recalled.
An employee at the salon said it had been several years since Gillette had worked there.
McKenzie described Gillette was a beam of positivity, and she was very close to her parents, who lived in Gilroy.
McKenzie said she’s not sure how long the Lonnbergs have lived in Gilroy. She added she couldn’t remember if Gillette had ever called Gilroy home herself in the past.
“Tiffiny always brought tons of laughter and joy into any room she walked into. She would always be there to cheer anyone up. She loved her family and friends and loved to be around them,” McKenzie wrote.
She also said little Ethan was Gillette’s “pride and joy.”
“He loved his mommy, that’s for sure,” McKenzie wrote.