Nevada County native who died in fatal wreck, remembered as a strong woman unafraid of life | TheUnion.com

Nevada County native who died in fatal wreck, remembered as a strong woman unafraid of life

Jasmine Turpen lived life her way: Loud.

Her hair changed periodically — red to blue to orange. Friends say the 22-year-old Nevada County native inspired them. People wanted to emulate her.

Turpen was herself, regardless of where she was or the company she kept.

"She was just loud," said Isabella Seal, who met Turpen when they both were students at Nevada Union High School. "She lived life. She was just so authentically herself."

Turpen, a graduate of Forest Charter School and a student at Sacramento City College, died early Saturday morning after a car struck her bicycle on Highway 160 in Sacramento. Kamau Ndirangu, 25, of Antelope, faces charges of felony hit and run and suspicion of DUI, the California Highway Patrol and family said.

Ndirangu made bond that day. He's scheduled Monday to appear in court, said Shelly Orio, with the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office.

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Valerie Turpen, Jasmine's mother, spoke last week with her daughter. Jasmine Turpen said she'd paid her college fees and was prepared to complete her classes at year's end. A student intern with the state's Legislative Data Center, Jasmine Turpen had a job waiting for her there after graduation, said her grandmother, Margaret Baker.

Jasmine Turpen was born at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and lived here for nine years. She then moved to Texas, returning to Nevada County in her teens.

"She was a person who listened to people," Baker said. "She paid attention to people. She had so many friends."

Moses Ortega counted himself one of them.

Ortega met Turpen in high school. He clearly remembers their first encounter.

Then a stranger, Turpen approached him, extended her hand, said her name and that she'd just relocated from Texas. Ortega shook her hand and they became friends.

"She was just not afraid of life," he added. "If she said she was going to do something, she'd do it. She was fearless. She swallowed life."

Seal said she remembers wanting to be like Turpen. She'd call Turpen every day, though initially she didn't want Seal as a best friend. Seal, however, pushed for a friendship. Recently Turpen would stay with Seal about once every two weeks.

"I just loved being with her," Seal said. "I was always inspired by her."

Turpen's funeral is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Hooper & Weaver Mortuary, 459 Hollow Way, Nevada City. A grave-side service will follow at New Elm Ridge Cemetery, on Kidder Avenue, in Grass Valley.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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