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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

2 Ventura Women Die in Collision

Accident: Pair shared love of animals. They were among four killed over the weekend in a head-on crash near the Nevada state line.

November 21, 2000|KATIE COOPER and GAIL DAVIS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Two Ventura County women heading home from a baby shower in Laughlin, Nev., were killed in a head-on collision on U.S. 95 just inside the California state line.

Christina Schultz, 20, of Simi Valley and Sara Petersen, 21, of Somis were among four killed in the accident Saturday night. The women died instantly when a northbound motorist crossed into the oncoming traffic lane and struck the sport utility vehicle Schultz was driving, authorities said.

The other driver, Bryan Boekweg, 28, was attempting to pass another vehicle on the two-lane highway near the crest of a hill when he crossed into the southbound lane as Schultz and Petersen were heading home around 8 p.m., authorities said.

Boekweg and a 13-year-old passenger in his Dodge pickup were also killed.

Family members and friends described the women as close friends who shared a love of horses and a gift for animal training.

The two had recently worked at Thousand Oaks-based Animal Actors of Hollywood, a firm that trains a variety of animals for film and television.

"They were both so devoted to the animals, so patient and loving," said Janine Aines, a trainer at the company.

Schultz's father, Philip, said his daughter showed a knack at an early age for training animals, from the family's Great Dane to pet rats to a cockatoo.

"Christy taught the dog the most amazing things: to get stuff from the mailbox, to fetch something from upstairs, to bark on command," he said in the dining room of their Simi Valley home.

Schultz, a Moorpark College student, was preparing to apply to the exotic-animal training program at the campus. She had been home-schooled during her teen years.

"Her whole life was animals," said Philip Schultz. "There was no doubt in my mind she was going to make a living working with them."

Petersen indulged her passion for riding, vaulting--a type of gymnastics on horseback--and training horses, despite lifelong warnings from her doctors that she was not healthy enough for strenuous activities.

When she was 11 months old, Petersen lost both kidneys following a fever and was on her third transplanted kidney when she died.

Her first kidney, donated by her mother, Tillie, failed shortly after she received it, and a second transplant in 1983 almost failed, but she pulled through after a brush with death.

"There's always been a feeling of a miracle with Sara," Tillie Petersen said.

An only child, Sara Petersen grew up around horses, her mother said. She loved to ride her pony, Mackey, and her paint horse, Patches, and would often perform in horse shows and parades.

Horses helped her surmount the difficulties of her health problems, Tillie Petersen said.

Last weekend, the two friends had traveled to Nevada for a baby shower for Christina's sister, Heather. Philip Schultz and his wife, Tina, had driven with the two women to the party at a hotel on the Colorado River, but the two young women departed early together because Christina was due back Sunday morning for her waitress job at Chili's in Westlake Village.

Shortly after they left around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Philip Schultz said he tried to reach his daughter on her cell phone to make sure she was finding her way back safely on the rural desert highway.

"And it wasn't turned on," he said. "I knew something was wrong."

He said he and his wife tossed and turned in their hotel room all night. On Sunday morning, he called the California Highway Patrol and his worst fears were confirmed.

Christina's grandmother, Betty Schultz of Lake Havasu, Ariz., said the cockatoo and the Great Dane have been unusually quiet and reserved since the family arrived back in Simi Valley.

"Normally, the bird makes so much noise, and the dog jumps on top of you and barks," she said. "Now they aren't doing anything. I think they know."

Arrangements for Petersen are under the direction of Pierce Bros. Griffin Mortuary in Camarillo. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Columba's Episcopal Church in Camarillo, 1251 Las Posas Road.

Arrangements for Schultz are under the direction of Pierce Bros. Griffin Mortuary of Westlake Village and are pending.

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