A Johansen High School junior was killed and her grandmother critically injured in a fiery crash on Highway 120 on Saturday afternoon.
Lau’ray Thomas, 16, and Angela Thomas, 45, both of Modesto, were driving back from a baby shower when the crash occurred, family members said. Angela Thomas was hospitalized with serious injuries.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the crash occurred on Highway 120 near Main Street in Manteca. Joffrey Scaerou, 26, of France was driving a 2014 Dodge Caravan east on Highway 120. Traffic had slowed. Scaerou was “traveling at a speed greater than safe for the roadway conditions,” the CHP said in a news release.
The Caravan hit the 1998 Mercury Grand Marquis driven by Angela Thomas. The collision sent the Mercury into a 1999 Lexus driven by Maricela De Cabral, 29, of Stockton. The Mercury then caught fire. Lau’ray Thomas succumbed to her injuries at the scene, the CHP said. Angela Thomas was taken by helicopter to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento with major injuries.
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Scaerou and a passenger in his car, whose identity was unavailable but who also came from France, suffered minor injuries. De Cabral suffered minor injuries; a 10-year-old girl from Stockton who was riding in the Lexus suffered moderate injuries and was taken to a San Joaquin County hospital.
The crash remains under investigation, but the CHP said drugs or alcohol do not appear to have been factors.
Lau’ray Thomas’ parents were trying to plan funeral arrangements for her Monday. A candlelight vigil was planned at her home on Riverside Avenue that evening.
“She loved to be around friends and family more than anything,” LaTanya Chatmon said of her daughter. “She listened to all types of music, all different genres of music.”
Lau’ray Thomas recently had been trying to land her first job; her mother had accompanied her to a local Jack in the Box, where Thomas hoped to get an interview this week.
Thomas loved to take photographs, her mother said.
“I have pictures of her everywhere,” Chatmon said. “She was on everyone’s phone.”