Wendy Hamabata (right) and her sister Katie.

Rafu Staff Report

SAN DIEGO — The victim in a fatal traffic accident that occurred on Dec. 28 was identified by the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office as 25-year-old Wendy Mieko Hamabata of San Diego.

Hamabata was driving a 1955 Chevy truck north on Interstate 805 near H Street in Chula Vista when she lost control of the vehicle. She was ejected when the truck, which was not equipped with seat belts, hit the center divider wall and rolled over.

First responders pronounced her dead at the scene due to blunt force trauma. The cause of the accident was not immediately known.

According to the CHP, Hamabata and her father, Bob Rambeau, had just bought the truck. The father was driving behind her and witnessed the crash.

Christopher White, Hamabata’s boyfriend of five years, told CBS 8 that it had been her dream to own a vintage truck and she tracked one down the day before Christmas. “There was no talking her out of it,” he said.

White described his girlfriend as “a great person … She loved to help people. That was her goal in life. I know she’s resting peacefully knowing that she did.”

Wendy Hamabata (center) with her parents, Michiko Hamabata and Bob Rambeau. (Photos courtesy of Katie Hamabata)

An avid surfer, Hamabata was the head lifeguard at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina, and most recently was a counselor for troubled youth at the YMCA. As an organ donor, she continues to help people even in death.

She was in the second year of a master’s program in psychology at the University of Phoenix and had a 4.0 GPA.

Melissa Velarde of San Diego said, “Wendy was a beautiful young lady inside and out. Her and I worked together at the Hyatt and had a few great memories over the summertime and at work. She will be greatly missed.”

Hamabata’s older sister Katie said, “Wendy was a healer, a great listener and very kind. Her smile lit a room for miles. Her laugh was infectious. She was very playful … She reached out to people in trouble, and her kindness touched many.”

The young woman was also the daughter of Michiko D. Hamabata.

She and her boyfriend had two puppies, Ojichan, a 2-year-old shar pei, and Mochi, a 2-year-old bulldog.

“After our grandfather passed, she missed him desperately and named her first puppy Ojichan,” Katie Hamabata explained.

Contributions to help pay for funeral costs can be made to the Wendy Hamabata Fund at Pac-Trust Bank, 279 F St., Chula Vista, CA 91910.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Jan. 14, at 1 p.m. at Chapel of the Roses, 3838 Bonita Rd., Bonita, CA 91902-1233.

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  1. I agree with Jim please have the truck throughly inspected. My deepest sympathy to family & those who were so fortunate to have been in her life.

  2. How heartbreaking for everyone. Have said many prayers for her family since the accident.

  3. It is possible Ms Hamabata had no fault in the accident. Many old vehicles had a steering coupler commonly referred to as a “rag joint”. It is common knowledge among car enthusiasts that these degrade greatly with age and it’s failure would cause a complete loss of control of the vehicle. If this occurred in this case, the steering wheel would spin around freely unconnected to the front wheels. It would be preferable to have a private accident engineering firm determine the cause of the accident.

  4. Thank you to whomever posted this. Wendy is my sister and is deeply missed. Her story is shared with so many. For anyone who finds this….please know that Wendy was a healer. She reached out to people in trouble. Her laugh was contagious. And her kindness touched many.