Newspaper mourns loss of two killed in accident |

Newspaper mourns loss of two killed in accident

Employees of the Daily Independent newspaper in Ridgecrest, Calif., are mourning the loss this week of two colleagues killed in a head-on accident.

The Daily Independent is owned by Swift Newspapers, the same family that owns the Sierra Sun.

News Editor Jill Andazola Ramirez, 26, and Web site coordinator Will Higgen, 21, were killed the morning of Oct. 25 when the car Higgen was driving hit a tractor-trailer head-on while northbound on Highway 395 near the Highway 58 intersection.

The driver of the truck and two passengers escaped injury.

“There’s all kinds of speculation as to what happened,” said Editor Charles Doud. “It sounds like they may have just driven into the truck. It’s pretty apparent that it was not the truck driver’s fault.”

Doud said the newsroom found out about the accident at midnight after coworkers began looking for the pair. They were due at work at 8 p.m.

Ramirez was a three-year veteran of the newspaper, starting out in the classified department, then taking a position as editorial assistant. She eventually graduated to the position of news editor and was responsible for production.

Doud said Ramirez worked hard and showed a propensity for news. “She was one of the best young people coming up I’ve ever worked with.”

Higgen, a one-year employee of the paper, operated the Web site which he was in the process of redesigning. “He had ideas for improvements and we’ll never know what they were,” Doud said.

The Web site has been out of service since the accident.

The stretch of Highway 395 that surrounds Ridgecrest is a treacherous spot for car accidents. Doud said some of the blame lies in the topography; the road has many dips and curves.

Police said Higgen and Ramirez were killed instantly in the accident. Photographs taken at the scene show that the green Ford Contour the pair were riding in was literally run over by the tractor-trailer.

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