A Petaluma man and two culinary students were killed early this morning when a BMW crashed into a tree in the 200 block of Pratt Avenue in St. Helena. Napa County Sheriff’s Capt. John Robertson identified John Gomes Melo, 45, of Petaluma as the driver of the vehicle. Jacob Aron Shapiro, 26, of Tahoe City, Calif., the right front passenger, and Adam Gregory Rains, 32, of West Sacramento, the rear passenger, also were killed in the 1 a.m. crash, Robertson said. All three were pronounced dead at 1:18 a.m., Robertson said. St. Helena police Cpl. Ramon Jovel said Shapiro and Rains were students at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena. A security guard at the school was driving in the area and located the collision, Jovel said. All three occupants of the 1999 BMW 540i were wearing seatbelts and excessive speed appears to be a factor in the crash based on the major damage to the front end of the BMW, Jovel said. Autopsies were conducted today on all three men and toxicology tests are pending, Jovel said. Charles Henning, managing director of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, said Shapiro and Rains were “two great future leaders.” “They were driving forces in their class and extremely well-liked
not just for their personality but for their potential. The entire CIA community is saddened by their deaths,” Henning said. Rains lived on campus and Shapiro did not, Henning said. Both began their studies in January and were enrolled in a two-year, general education associate of culinary arts program that serves as a foundation for studying the cuisines of the world, Henning said. “They were very good students. They had a passion and were following their dream. They had a very promising start,” he said.
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