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Old Town Auburn restaurant hosts memorial for fatal crash

Tio Pepe outdoor seating area scene of April 22 SUV crash into diners
By: Journal Staff
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First responders and restaurant workers were among the group gathering Wednesday at an Old Town Auburn restaurant to remember an Auburn resident killed after being struck by an out-of-control SUV in its outdoor dining area.

Bret Montague, 54, of Auburn, was killed in the crash. As of Thursday, Auburn Police had not released the identity of the 72-year-old driver of the SUV or released the names of two other people injured and taken to hospital after the April 22 crash.

Auburn resident Scott Holbrook, one of the attendees at Wednesday’s remembrance, described it as somewhere between a wake and a memorial.

Holbrook wasn’t at the restaurant during the Monday afternoon emergency but he said the loss was strongly felt.

“The Tio Pepe family hosted several folks for a time of reflection on the tragic events that shook this normally happy location,” Holbrook said. “For some reason this hit hard but Wednesday was a good night. I know all the staff really appreciated it.”

Jay McCarl of the Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy led the ceremony.

“He reminded us all of how precious life is and how easily it can be taken away, easing the questions that mainly centered around the word ‘why?’” Holbrook said.

As well as staff and emergency personnel, local merchants, several customers, and entertainers who play on warm nights in the outside seating area attended.

“It was a nice ceremony and a good way to start the healing process,” Holbrook said.

The Tio Pepe outdoor area has reopened. Auburn Police were contacted Thursday for an update on the investigation into the crash but had not returned a phone call by deadline.

Montague died in hospital a day after the crash. The woman injured in the crash was his wife and the man a visitor from Minnesota dining with the couple, police said last week.

The driver of the SUV was not arrested or charged after the crash.