‘My heart’s been ripped out’: Woman remembers daughter killed in suspected DUI crash

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SONORA, Calif. (KTXL) — A woman died and her four children were injured Monday when a 19-year-old suspected drunken driver crashed head-on into their SUV on a Sonora road.

The woman’s mother, Robin Grove, described the moment she drove up to the accident scene along Phoenix Lake Road. 

“Where’s my baby? I gotta see my baby,” Grove said. 

Grove’s daughter, Melissa Patania, was driving a small SUV with her four children, ranging from 6 to 13 years old, when she says the worst happened — something Grove thought she would never have to experience. 

Her daughter and grandchildren collided with a reckless driver who had swerved in front of their SUV.

“My heart’s been ripped out of my chest. It’s gone,” Grove told FOX40. 

California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Machado says 19-year-old Augustus Matthew Marinovich drove his pickup head-on into Patania’s SUV. 

“He lost control of his vehicle and veered over the double-yellow line,” Machado explained. “He was placed under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.”

All I want is somebody to bring her back to me.


Patania died at the scene.

Her four children suffered traumatic injuries and were airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center. Their injuries include a fractured spine, leg and wrist, which will require surgery. 

Perhaps the most critical injury was to Patania’s 6-year-old son who sat behind her. Grove said Wednesday he was in the ICU with an open skull fracture and a broken femur. 

“If he lives, which I hope to God he does, he’ll be different and I don’t know how they’re going to function without their mom,” Grove said. 

Patania was just four minutes from their home when they were struck by the suspected drunken driver. 

Grove said the driver took away her daughter, who she described as a resilient soul overcoming many roadblocks but coming out on top. 

And she loved her children above anything else — doing everything for them.

“The kids are going through a lot of trauma, a lot of trauma. There’s going to be years of recovery,” said Todd Grove, Patania’s stepfather. 

“All I want is somebody to bring her back to me. It wasn’t right,” Grove said.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help Patania’s family, which can be accessed by clicking or tapping here.

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