Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Ann Lucile Bercaw

Hart High Class of 1980

Webmaster's note.

Ann L. Bercaw was the daughter of Ora William Bercaw (1920-1967), a phone company technician, and Sarah Elizabeth Baker (1926-1994).[1] Her grandfather, Ora W. Bercaw Sr. (1880-1932), was the Southern Pacific Railroad's Saugus station agent starting in December 1906. He built up the business section of Saugus in the 1900s-1910s and donated some of the construction money for the first Saugus School building.

Courtesy of Margaret Martin. Click to enlarge.

Ann was born in San Fernando and grew up in the Bercaw block on the west side of San Fernando Road (today's Railroad Avenue) across from the depot in Saugus. She later lived in Placerita Canyon where she liked to ride horses. She graduated from Hart High School in 1980. Afterward, she worked as a secretary for her stepfather's home-based company, Barney's Electrical Service, 24763 Golden Oak Lane.

On July 4, 1981, Ann was with friends from Newhall and approximately 50,000 other people at Pismo State Beach when she was struck by a dune buggy. She was rushed to a hospital where she succumbed to her injuries three days later. Authorities said the 26-year-old dune buggy driver appeared to have been drinking. Arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and felony drunk driving (see below), he served approximately six months in jail.[2]

Ann Bercaw

Click to enlarge.

Funeral mass will be said at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday) for Ann L. Bercaw, who was fatally injured this week at Pismo Beach. She died on Tuesday at the age of 18.

A 1980 graduate of Hart High, she worked as secretary at Barney's Electrical Corporation this past year.

She is survived by her mother, Sarah Barnett, of Newhall; three brothers, Tim of Newhall and Chris and Ray of Saugus; two sisters, Jane Barnett of Newhall and Sally Barnett of Granada Hills; her stepfather, Clarence Barnett of Newhall; and her grandmother, Lucile Baker of San Fernando.

Interment will be at San Fernando Mission Cemetery. Arrangements were made by Hilburn's Funeral Chapel.

Click to enlarge.

Girl Seriously Hurt at Beach.

San Luis Obispo — A 16-year-old Newhall girl [sic: 18 years] was reported in critical condition this morning from injuries sustained in a dune buggy-pedestrian accident Saturday afternoon on Pismo State Beach.

Ann Bercaw was walking on the beach [sic: incorrect[3]] between the Grover City Grand Avenue and Pier Avenue beach ramps at about 4 p.m. when she was struck by a dune buggy, according to Ken Huddleston, State Department of Parks and Recreation.

She was reported in critical condition at Sierra Vista Hospital, San Luis Obispo, suffering severe head injuries.

The unidentified driver told officials that his accelerator stuck as he was approaching Bercaw and he was unable to avoid hitting her. The buggy continued down the beach, striking two ATC three-wheeled vehicles, before rolling over.

The two persons riding the ATCs were also injured, but their identities and the extent of their injuries was not available this morning, Huddleston said.

Numerous other less-serious accidents marked the Fourth of July weekend and kept officials busy. Huddleston said, noting that an estimated 50,000 persons were on the beach Saturday evening for the fireworks display presented off the Pismo pier.

Traffic in Grover City and Oceano leading up to the ramps was reported backed up for blocks at times during the weekend.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department rural unit, manned by officer Bill Spears, also patroled the beach area Friday and Saturday, handling at least three injury accidents, making one arrest for speeding and giving false information to an officer, and finding a lost wallet, according to his preliminary reports.

Click to enlarge.

Newhall Resident Killed.

A Newhall girl was killed and two other Newhall residents injured — one seriously — in an off-road vehicle accident at Pismo State Beach on the Fourth of July.

Ann Bercaw, 18, was killed after being struck by a dune buggy driven by Steven Perez of Hanford, the state Parks and Recreation Ranger's office at Pismo Beach reported.

The accident occurred at about 1 p.m. on a beach jammed with a holiday crowd of off-road vehicle enthusiasts.

Perez, according to ranger Don Patton, first struck an ATC (All-Terrain Cycle — a three-wheeled, motorized, off-road vehicle) driven by a 16-year-old Fresno girl.

After hitting the first ATC, Perez's dune buggy went into the air and landed on two other All-Terrain Vehicles, Patton said.

Ms. Bercaw, who was a passenger on one of the ATCs struck by Perez's vehicle, was fatally injured.

Leigh Tracey Koons, 20, of Newhall was driving the ATC in which Ms. Bercaw was riding. She was seriously injured and taken to French Hospital in San Luis Obispo.

A spokesman for the hospital reported that Ms. Koons sustained a fractured hip, two dislocated elbows, a concussion, and multiple abrasions.

The driver of the third ATC, Michael Fernandez of Newhall, was also hurt but his condition could not be learned.

Alicia Hygh, 16, of Fresno, who was driving the first ATC, suffered minor injuries, Patton said.

The 26-year-old Perez was arrested on charges of vehicular manslaughter and felony drunk driving, according to deputy District Attorney Barry LaBarbera of San Luis Obispo county.

"His (Perez's) story is that his accelerator got stuck," LaBarbera said. "But the state police said that he had been drinking."

Patton said that there were about 5,000 off-road vehicles at Pismo State Beach on the Fourth of July.

1. Hannah Knight (niece), pers. comm., June 27. 2020. Sarah and Ora had three children: Timmy, Ann and Christopher. Following her husband's death in 1967, Sarah married Clarence Barnett, and they had one child together (Jane). Hannah is Jane's daughter. Clarence also had two children from a previous marriage (Ray and Sally). Sarah lived in Oxnard at the time of her death at age 88.

2. Nicole Bercaw (niece, daughter of Christopher), pers. comm., June 27, 2020. According to Hannah Knight, it may have been a bit longer than six months.

3. According to Hannah Knight (op. cit), Ann was a passenger in an ATV/ATC when she was struck by the dune buggy, as reported in The Signal.

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