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Cheerfulness not forgotten

Woman whose car crashed in parking lot was known for kindness. Coworkers taking death hard, says man in charge.

February 13, 2008|By Joseph Serna

When clients called PCR Services for expertise on environmental impact reports, many times they asked to work with Sally Salavea.

It wasn’t just because of her talent, which the 39-year-old had plenty of, but because of her demeanor and her kindness, coworkers said.

Sally Salavea, wife, daughter, sister, was killed when her car crashed into a park awning at Bonita Canyon Sports Park at the T-intersection of San Miguel Drive and Ford Road early Saturday morning.

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“She was one of the sweetest, gentlest, kindest people I ever knew,” said Steve Nelson, the principal in charge of PCR’s Irvine office who knew Salavea for 17 years. “I never saw her get cross once. She was very quick to laugh at herself. Just a lovely, lovely person. Very bright, excellent to work with. A true friend.”

Police said speed appeared to be a major factor when Salavea’s 2007 Saab crashed in the park’s parking lot in Newport Beach. Traffic investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the accident, and a toxicology report is pending.

As news spread through the office of Salavea’s death, many were inconsolable, Nelson said.

Nearly a dozen overcome with grief left work by the afternoon Monday, he said.

“They can’t get anything done, they can’t carry on. It’s just devastating. It floored us all, so tragic, so quick,” he said.

Newport Beach police interviewed more witnesses Tuesday to help in their investigation, which will take a few weeks while they try to determine how fast Salavea was driving, Newport Beach Police Sgt. Evan Sailor said.

The company’s online statement said Salavea brought sunshine to every room and epitomized kindness and warmth and offered prayers for her friends and family.

While Salavea was a great worker, that’s not what people are going to miss, Nelson said.

“Her cheerfulness, her kindness, her compassion for people. She was very much a stabilizing influence. She was a big part of making this office as good of a place to work as it is. That’s where the voice is,” he said.

“She was like a bright warm light in the office.”

PCR will host a tribute to Salavea at 2 p.m. Feb. 28 at Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point.


JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at joseph.serna@latimes.com.

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