Erica was always known for her big heart. It touched so many people, near and far. She had a contagious smile and a beautiful soul that was one of a kind. Erica’s love for family and friends was very important to her. Her presence instantly warmed her family’s home with her famous entrance trademarks, “Watz up? or “Hey” or “Hey Man!” She loved babies and children – Erica was always the sunshine in any room and quickly uplifted the mood to “party time” in a heartbeat. Whenever there was a family gathering or Chamorro food, you could always count on Erica to RSVP. Unfortunately, parties would never be the same without her there. Every year, Erica’s welcoming nature brought new faces to her family’s lives. These new faces always became strong never-ending friendships with many grateful memories.
Erica had a bright future after graduating with a degree in Sociology from UC Santa Barbara in 2009. She was ready to take on the world and become a probation officer working with youth in the community.
Erica just landed her first job at Valley View Casino. In less than 10 months of employment, she was awarded with “Employee of the Month”. In that short time, Erica became close friends with her co-worker Susy Orozo. Both young ladies had a very bright future ahead! Sadly, life was cut short for Erica and Susy all because of one women’s bad choice – ONE.
The Impaired Driver’s blood-alcohol level was measured at .34 percent — more than four times the legal limit. The defendant did not have a valid driver’s license. The chain of events leading to the triple fatality began about 12:30 a.m. when the driver of a 2008 Nissan Altima pulled to the side of the freeway because one of her three passengers was ill. After parking on the shoulder, Susy got out of the car along with Erica and another passenger, 25-year-old man, Omar Guzman. A short time later, an oncoming 1994 Jeep Cherokee drifted off the freeway and smashed into the Altima and the two women standing alongside it, killing Susy and Erica and hurling 21-year-old Gerardo Cortez out of the parked car. The Cherokee then skidded across the roadway and overturned, throwing the defendant onto the pavement and partially ejecting her passenger, a 34-year-old man, who also died at the scene. Despite being flung out of the parked car, Cortez suffered only minor injuries, and Guzman escaped unscathed.
This was one bad choice too many. That choice took the life of Peaches’ little girl and ruined so many who loved her in ONE instant. No words can explain the pain felt by her family every minute that they live without Erica. A parent is never expected to outlive their child. Peaches’ future is just longing to see her daughter again, someday. Until then, she lives in a memory and drowning in a pool of sadness, tears and anger of this one hundred percent preventable crime. No mother should have to lose their child this way and feel the pain they endure each, every day. Peaches and her family will forever miss their beloved daughter Erica – an angel who now has her wings.
Erica’s Mom, Peaches Oliva, is a MADD San Diego volunteer and the top fundraiser for the Carlsbad 5K Walk Like MADD – Team “Walking for Heaven’s Angels Erica & Suzy,” with contributions over $5,000 each year. Her continued support and dedication to MADD is in memory of her daughter bringing awareness to so many near and far. Peaches has touched many hearts with Erica’s memorial grave decorations adorned with balloons and lights you can view from heaven. Family and friends continue to visit Erica as they celebrate her legacy and their loss each year. Just like her daughter’s big heart, Peaches continues to spread Erica’s love and kindness through her daily routine by helping others in need while sharing her memories of her daughter with others that have lost their loved ones at the cemetery. To share the memory of one’s life that was cut so short is to remind others to cherish life and be grateful for what they have today and always make that ONE right choice, because you only have ONE life.
Erica Memorial Slideshow – by Sallie Toves
MADD Awareness video – by Kyra Toves https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_YeLRhp3mE
Walking for Heaven’s Angels: Susy & Erica