Coalinga — Paso Robles residents Brittni Frace, 20, and Brynn Frace, 22, were on their way back to school at Chico State University Tuesday after spending part of their five-week break at home when they were involved in a traffic accident near Interstate 5 in Fresno County, leaving one sister, Brittni Frace dead and the other, Brynn Frace in critical condition. Both sisters are Atascadero High School graduates and decorated cross-country athletes. Brynn Frace had recently transferred from Humboldt State University to Chico State and was Brittni’s roommate.
On their way back to Chico, driving their 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe, they stopped for gas at a station just west of Interstate 5 on State Route 198. Frace’s vehicle was facing south at a stop sign waiting to enter State Route 198 to go east. As Brynn Frace, the driver of the vehicle, made her way to the intersection, she did not yield to a 2014 Peterbilt semi driven by Terry Lee Keeling, 52, who was driving west on State Route 198.
The semi was going approximately 40 mph when the Fraces’ Tahoe accelerated onto the highway directly into the path of the Peterbilt. The Semi collided into the left side of the Fraces’ Tahoe. Brynn Frace sustained major injuries and was transported to the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. Her sister, Brittni Frace sustained fatal injuries and passed away on scene.
The accident was reported around 10:02 a.m. California Highway Patrol officers from the Coalinga Area Office responded to the scene. Officer Steve Schuh answered some questions about the potential cause of the accident.
“It’s still under investigation, but it’s pretty cut and dry what happend out on the scene, with the Chevy Tahoe at the private driveway there at the gas station pulling out into the right-of-way of the big rig coming down across Highway 98,” Schuh said. “It’s pretty clear both ways, there is no obstruction, pretty wide open... again with the driver (was) injured and not able to give a statement and (we really don’t know) what she saw or didn’t see, unfortunately.”
Schuh ruled out drugs and alcohol as a factor in the collision.
Brittni Frace was an outstanding athlete and is well remembered for her athletic achievements during her time at Atascadero High School, where Coach Roger Warnes coached both her and Brynn. Warnes saw them almost every single day from Monday through Saturday for almost seven years.
“They were certainly the most sensitive and caring and courageous young ladies that I’ve had the pleasure to work with in 42 years of coaching,” he said. “Brittni was All-League, she was All-County, she was All-State, she was the 2016 Athlete of the Year at Atascadero High School, she was our record holder; while she was at school, she broke a mile record that had been standing for about 26 years. She was the leader of our cross county team and the heart and soul of our team.”
After Warnes paused for a moment to gather his thoughts, he continued, “Brynn, her sister, is still with us and she needs a lot of prayers at this point because she not doing very well. She ran for three years at Atascadero HIgh School and she was just starting her career in running half marathons and full marathons as an age group athlete,” he said. “Both of them mean the world to so many people in Atascadero and San Luis Obispo. It’s just a really, really heartbreaking time for everyone. Brittni was probably one of the happiest, spirited lovers of life that you could ever meet. So is Brynn. Both those sisters together, they’re more like twins.”
Britini and Brynn Frace were both students at Chico State University. Brittni Frace had come to Chico State a year and a half ago where her and other freshman athletes are “redshirted” on the Cross Country team to get adjusted to life at Chico. She was a sophomore this year and her major was in Exercise Physiology. Brittni Frace just ran her first semester in uniform this past fall.
Coach Gary Towne was Brittni Frace’s coach at Chico State and he reflected on her time with the team.
“That group she came in with an exceptional recruiting group,” Towne said. “She was really right in the center of that group, she was a great student… a very solid student, a solid person. And really she was just getting started athletically, as far as establishing herself and started creating a resume for herself as a runner… She was just getting started here.”
Towne told the Paso Robles Press and Atascadero News that Chico State was off for winter break and that school was to start on Monday and that the Frace sisters were coming back from home in Paso Robles. Brynn is a Senior and her major was in Civil Engineering.
“Her sister Brynn is really kind of an adoptive part of our team,” Towne said. “She hung out with them a lot and was a huge supporter of our program since she arrived at Chico this year. Her sister is hanging on for life right now… that’s a really heavy blow to our team because Brynn was really a part of our group as well. It’s really unfortunate because I think Brynn was aspiring to run on the team and she was on the cusp of being able to that right before all this happened.”
Brittni and Brynn Frace’s father is Warren Frace, Community Development Director for the City of Paso Robles. He previously served as the Community Development Director for the City of Atascadero. Britini is survived by her sister, Brynn, father, Warren, mother, Shari Moore and brother, Braedon. Their mother, Shari Moore Frace is requesting loved ones and friends via her facebook page to “Please go to Highlands Church in Paso Robles and say a prayer and say a happy memory.”
Chico State is offering free urgent walk-in counseling services for students at the University. Students can call (530) 898-6345 for assistance. Faculty and Staff can also utilize the employee assistance program for counseling services.
You may contact Elizabeth Enriquez-Phillips at [email protected] for questions and/or comments.