SoCal crash with suspected drunken driver takes life of former Auburn resident

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Instead of marking Scott Francis Farinha’s 46th birthday this week, a well-known Auburn-area family is mourning his death in a San Bernardino County crash involving a drunken driver attempting to elude arrest. A Placer High graduate who had lived in Southern California for more than 20 years, Farinha was driving on Highway 138 near Phelan last Friday afternoon when his Chevrolet Camaro collided head-on with a car driven by 45-year-old Zimmie Lynn Burnath. Farinha, a computer engineer who worked for international corporations in the United States and throughout the world, died at the scene of the crash. Burnath lived but was taken to hospital with major injuries. California Highway Patrol officer Daniel Hesser told the Associated Press that an officer on patrol had initially noticed Burnath’s car swerving into oncoming traffic about 1:30 p.m. The officer chased Burnath for five miles as she weaved between lanes and reached speeds of 100 mph before the crash, AP reported. Farinha, a Santa Ana resident, was killed instantly. Burnath was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony evading and driving under the influence. Scott Farinha was born April 28, 1964, and attended Sierra College and California State University, Sacramento. Away from work, he was an avid skydiver, with more than 400 dives. He was also a scuba diver, snowboarder, actor and writer. He leaves an extended family in the Auburn area, including his parents, Ernie and Dorothy Farinha, brothers Larry and Chris, all of Auburn, and a sister, Deanne Eldridge of Folsom. The Farinha family on his father’s side has roots in Placer County starting in the 1920s while the Oest family on his mother’s side has a ranching and farming legacy in Placer County stretching back to the 1860s. Dorothy Farinha said Thursday that her son was on his way to the mountains to snowboard. Ironically, he eschewed alcoholic beverages. A memorial service is pending in Southern California. His family is planning a private memorial gathering in Auburn.