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Mariposa Road Crash Claims Local Educator
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Funeral services were Monday for a longtime Escalon Unified School District employee, killed in a Tuesday morning auto accident near the intersection of Mariposa and Carrolton roads west of Escalon.

The Oct. 23 crash claimed the life of Joan Justice-Brown, who worked with the San Joaquin County Office of Education as an educational specialist and had spent many years teaching in Escalon before moving in to a county role.

It was standing room only for the memorial service, as family, friends, colleagues and the community mourned her loss. She was westbound on Mariposa Road shortly before 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, behind a pick-up truck, when a Kenworth tractor trailer headed eastbound crossed into the westbound lane. The pick-up swerved to avoid the big rig and authorities said Justice-Brown also attempted to swerve out of the way but was unable to avoid being struck head on by the big rig.

"Our heartfelt thoughts go out to Joan's family members and friends as they mourn her loss," said county Superintendent of Schools Mick Founts, in a statement released on Tuesday. "She has been a valued member of the San Joaquin County Office of Education educational team, and will be missed tremendously."

Escalon Director of Special Education Lisa Cheney said many staff members were shaken by the news, having worked closely with Justice-Brown over the years, and counselors were on hand if anyone at the schools needed to talk.

"She was a Special Day Class teacher for several years at Dent with the young kids, kindergarten through second and she was a speech therapist," said Cheney.

More than that, she added, Justice-Brown was a caring educator, who always put the needs of her students first and never stopped learning more about her field, becoming an expert in behavioral training, focused on a positive, supportive approach.

"She did statewide trainings in her positive behavioral intervention strategies," explained Cheney. "She had such a positive outlook on life, she wanted to reward kids, with positives for respect, positives for attending school, she put a lot of focus on support."

And it was the school community that had to come together to support each other as they dealt with the loss.

"It's definitely melancholy," Cheney said. "There's just a lot of sadness across the district."