Four people, who were killed in a pre-dawn dirt bike collision Sunday, were riding without headlights or helmets, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Relatives said Monday that three devoted parents and a loving son died in the crash. They left behind several grieving family members, including six children who lost their parents.
According to family members, two couples were riding the dirt bikes when they collided on private land northwest of Crows Landing and West Taylor roads.
Thomas "Ed" Moore, 33, and his wife, Kelly Moore, 30, were on one of the bikes, said Kelly's sister, Keri Sexton. Thomas Moore owned a trailer on the property, Sexton said. She said the couple were Modesto residents.
Thomas Moore's sister, Cynthia Prickette, 29, of Ceres lived on the property in her own mobile home. She was on the other dirt bike with her boyfriend, Michael Stokes, 33, of Ceres, Sexton said.
Prickette was divorced with two children from the marriage, Sexton said. Prickette and Stokes had started dating a few months ago, their families said.
The two couples were pronounced dead at the scene.
"It's been very overwhelming for us; how a single accident can take all of them at one time," said 36-year-old Sexton, who was baby-sitting the six children Monday at her home.
CHP investigators Monday were trying to piece together the circumstances leading to the accident. CHP officer Brandon Moore, who is not related to the victims, said investigators believe the bikes collided between 1:30 and 3:30 a.m. on a night with some rain.
The investigators suspect that the crash was a sideswipe in which the motorcycles were heading in different directions but the front ends hit. Speed is believed to have been a factor in the force of the impact.
"It has to be an incredible impact to cause four people to die right there," Moore said.
About 8:20 a.m., a man who lives nearby discovered the bodies, said officer Tom Killian.
He said the four people were more than 10 feet from one another. The bodies were near a 1997 Yamaha Motocross and a 1990 Honda CR Motocross.
Because they were on private property, Killian said, helmets and lights were not required.
There were no indications of driving under the influence, but CHP investigators were waiting for autopsy results, Moore said.
Sexton said she has no idea why the four were riding without helmets or lights at night.
The Moores had been married for 15 years, and Sexton said they cherished their children: Corey, 14; Brianna, 12; William, 8; and Logan, 5.
"She was completely devoted to her kids," Sexton said. "She was the perfect little soccer mom."
Prickette also was a hardworking mom who looked out for her children: Kenneth, 10, and Liam, 6, Sexton said.
She said her brother-in-law, Thomas Moore, was excited that the family had saved enough money for a camping vacation. Sexton said the couple hoped to buy their first home.
Thomas Moore worked as the lead transmission mechanic at a transmission repair shop in Dublin, to which he commuted.
"He was everyone's mechanic," Sexton said of her brother-in-law's helpful spirit. "And his kids were everything to him."
Thomas Moore had befriended Stokes a long time before the two worked together as mechanics at a Turlock repair shop, said Stokes' mother, Patricia Stokes.
She said her son had a passion for working on muscle cars, including his favorite, the Dodge Dart. She said her son lived in a Ceres apartment by himself and was between jobs.
"He was a very smart kid and very family-oriented," Stokes said. "He was a great son and he could do anything he set his mind to."
She said her son started dating Prickette about four months ago. She had met her son's girlfriend at Kindred Hospital in Modesto, where Patricia Stokes' mother was being treated and Prickette worked as a certified nursing assistant.
She said her family was trying to make funeral arrangements for her son Monday. Sexton said her family had scheduled a memorial service Thursday at Foursquare Gospel Church, 510 Burney St. in Modesto for her sister, brother-in-law and his sister.
Bee staff writer Inga Miller contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.