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Family, friends mourn victims of suspected DUI crash in Santa Maria

Posted at 6:32 PM, Mar 18, 2019

Friends and family members are remembering the two young women from Atascadero who died in a suspected DUI crash in Santa Maria over the weekend as caring and sweet.

Madison Coleman, 17, and Monica Gonzalez, 20, died when their vehicle was struck by another vehicle at the intersection of Donovan Rd. and Miller St.

The two were previously students at Atascadero High School, according to the principal.

Coleman worked at Taco Bell and Gonzalez worked at McDonald’s.

“She was just a leader,” said Kevin Dickerson, McDonald’s Shift Manager. “She would get all the crew members together and get them doing what they needed to do if the managers had to deal with something.”

Dickerson says Gonzalez was always on time and dependable.

“There’s never going to be those moments anymore, you know, laughing or I need this done (and) she’s right there to do it for ya,” he said. “It’s going to be a pretty big loss not just for the business but for everyone else here.”

Close friends add that the 20-year-old was selfless and loved dogs.

“She just wanted to make sure that everybody was happy that she cared about,” said Jade Bruton.

Coleman, who went by Maddy, was also a bright light in many lives.

“She was a sweet girl,” said her grandmother, Susie Van Benthuysen. “She had a job, she always went to her work, they loved her.”

“She was super nice, she didn’t have a mean bone in her body,” said friend Haley Wichert. “She loved everybody, she wanted to be everybody’s friend. She loved to sing. Her voice was so beautiful.”

The driver who police say crashed into the young women’s vehicle has been identified as Javier Cortes, 27, of Santa Maria. He was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter and has since been released on bail.

There were a total of four young women in the victims’ car. The conditions of the two who survived the crash is unknown at this time. Police say they are all from San Luis Obispo County.

Cortes is due in court on April 17.