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Diverse lives, one tragic link

A popular teacher, a much-admired boss, an 'awesome' mother and more. . . . In coming days, The Times will continue to profile the victims of the crash.

September 14, 2008|Jessica Garrison

'Backbone' of her family

Her sister knew as soon as she heard about the crash of Metrolink 111 that Donna Lynn Remata was on the train, on her way home to make dinner for her daughter.

"She was such a creature of habit," Remata's sister, Debra Nieves, said Saturday. "You could set the clock by her."

Remata, 49, one of the first people pulled from the wreckage, took the train daily from her home in Simi Valley to her job at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in downtown Los Angeles. She loved the ride and the calm of avoiding the traffic, just as she loved her job and taking care of her husband, Larry, and two children, Tiffany, 17, and Larry II, 18.

"She was the backbone of this family," Nieves said. "There was nothing fancy about her . . . but she did it all."

On Easter, Remata used to dress as a bunny to charm her children. In the fall, she insisted her siblings get together to cook Puerto Rican tamales to celebrate their family's heritage. "My mom was awesome," said her daughter, whose nickname is "Koga."

Born and raised in Carson, Remata attended Banning High School and Harbor College before landing a job at the MTA two decades ago. She met Larry, a mechanic, at the agency, and both continued to work there while raising their children. When not working, Remata spent time with her kids, went for runs and sent her friends and family a steady stream of humorous text messages. She also doted on her four Shih Tzus.

Remata is survived by her husband and children; parents, Evelyn and Tony Nieves of Henderson, Nev.; and three sisters, Debra, Terri and Jo Ann Nieves.

-- Jessica Garrison

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