Longtime Friends Died in Crash on Friant Road

FRESNO, Calif. Katherine Beltran and Rosemary Salcedo died in an accident Monday night in Friant -- when their car plunged into a ravine.

Since it was raining Monday night, the victim's family members told them it might be best if they skip their trip to try their luck ... but the two went anyway. Sadly, their families got word Tuesday morning of the accident that took their lives ... both were mothers and grandmothers.

What was intended to be a festive day of tamale making for the Beltran family, has turned into a tearful gathering to remember 49 year old Katherine Beltran.

Tracie Beltran Garcia said, "It wasn't like you know cancer where you expect death, you just get a phone call and that our sister's gone, she's our oldest sister."

Rescue crews had to use the Jaws of Life to get the women out, but it was too late. CHP officers say Beltran was driving on Millerton Road near North Fork Road when a witness traveling behind her told investigators she slammed on her brakes, lost control on a wet road and rolled 30 feet down a ravine.

Her friend, 59 year old Rosemary Salcedo also died in the accident. Beltran's family says the women became friends about a decade ago when they worked together. Both shared a common hobby and every chance they got family members say they were playing slot machines.

Katherine Beltran's sister Tracie said, "That is what she lived for. She paid her bills the minimum and the rest was for Table Mountain gambling. She loved it. We would tell her all the time you know not to go ... that it was a waste of money or a waste of time but she would say well that's what I like to do."

Salcedo's longtime boyfriend, clearly devastated had loaned his truck to the women to make the trip. When they didn't return, he assumed they were winning and having a great time.

Beltran's sisters say health problems forced her to quit work several years ago. So she stayed home and helped with her family with their kids.

This Christmas will be a long, quiet and painful one for both families.

Salcedo had just finished Christmas shopping. She has left her grandchildren a lasting memory, in the presents she has waiting for them on Christmas day.

Beltran did not have any life insurance. Her family is trying to figure out how to cover burial costs. They have contacted Table Mountain to see if they are willing to help in any way.

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