Stafford Lake crash kills two fathers

04/17/2019

Nick Nunes and Joey Corda were well-loved members of the West Marin agriculture community. On April 5, both men were killed when Joey, driving his friend home, lost control of his truck and struck a tree on Novato Boulevard west of Stafford Lake. Both men died on impact. According to Marin County coroners, speed and alcohol may have been factors in the crash. 

Nick, 32, and Joey, 42, had both attended high school in Petaluma and were living with their young families on neighboring ranches in Novato. 

Nick worked as a flatbed truck driver at Hunt & Behrens Feed in Petaluma for 14 years and lived on the Leveroni Ranch with his wife, Nicole, and their sons Nickolas and Nash. While the ranch is no longer a commercial dairy, Nick raised goats, pigs and “a bunch of chickens,” said his sister Melissa Thornhill. “He loved being outdoors—anything that he could do outdoors, he did.” It was a love he worked hard to instill in his children through trips hunting and fishing. “He put his all into those kids,” Melissa said. 

During a memorial service held for Nick on Monday, attendees spoke about his infectious smile and the twinkle that always lived in his eyes. Dan Figone, a director of Hunt & Behrens, said Nick had a “great personality” and was “an excellent, hardworking employee” who forged relationships with the farmers and dairy workers to whom he made deliveries. He is survived by his parents Fran and Dawn Nunes, his sisters Melissa and Lyndsey Sandoval, and their families. 

Joey’s namesake—his great-great grandfather—purchased the Corda family ranch in the early 1900s. He took on the obligation of maintaining it, said his uncle, Gary Corda, raising beef cattle and dairy heifers and producing silage for a local dairy. “Joey would spend weekends—all the time he could—to maintain the place in the state that it is,” Mr. Corda said. 

Joey and his brother Jeffrey worked with Marin Agricultural Land Trust to guarantee the property’s preservation. 

Joey also worked for two decades at the North Marin Water District, where general manager Drew McIntyre said Joey was a “very dedicated” employee who held himself and his crew to the highest standards. 

“He took pride in the work that was being done and didn’t hesitate to lead by example—and wasn’t satisfied with just doing an average job,” Mr. McIntyre said. “He will be sorely missed, but I guarantee you he will never be forgotten.” 

Joey is survived by his fiancé Sara Bowman, their two daughters Harper and Camby, his parents Alfred and Annette Corda, his siblings Jeff Corda and Janeen Brady, and their families. 

Gary spoke not only of his nephew’s devotion to his work, but to his family and the county. “He was a steward of the property and a diplomat for Marin County,” Gary said. Though a casino had taken an interest in the property some years ago, Joey was insistent on maintaining his family’s legacy. 

“He wanted to make sure that future generations could enjoy the space as he knew it,” Gary said. He added that Joey was a loving father of his two young daughters, who he would often carry when they tired of walking. 

“Much of the farming community in Marin is comprised of these families that have been here for generations,” said Jamison Watts, MALT’s executive director. “The knowledge, the experience and the culture that we’re losing with their passing is a blow to the community. Our hearts really go out to the families.”