The man killed when a 7-1/2 foot boulder rolled down in front of his car near Logan Shoals Vista Point Friday night was identified as 49-year-old Nicholas Ponce from Sparks.
Ponce was a meat cutter at the Albertson's Food & Drug store in South Lake Tahoe, where he had returned to work at 9 a.m. Thursday after being off for six months because of an injury.
"Everybody here is shocked," said Herman De Somber, assistant manager in the meat department. De Somber worked with Ponce on Friday, before he was killed when his sedan hit a large boulder head-on during his commute home.
De Somber said Ponce had slipped six months ago in the fish department injuring his back. Unable to lift anything, he collected disability and spent those months at home healing. Friday was his second day back.
"He was real well liked by people," he said. "When he was gone and all that, people would still call and ask for him."
Ponce was divorced and had two daughters, according to Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Smithen. One of his daughters lived with his ex-wife in Reno, while the other shared an apartment with him in Sparks. She is 19 years old and recently graduated from high school, according to De Somber.
Ponce's co-workers at Albertson's said he was a hard worker and well liked by customers.
"It was shocking to hear about," said Mike Lyle, a dairy clerk. "He was a very likable guy." Lyle had seen him for the first time in months on Friday.
"He was happy to be back," Lyle said. "I shook his when he was on his way home."
De Somber agreed.
"He was very jolly, friendly, energetic ... whatever you want to call it," he said. "He was very good with people."
De Somber had worked with Ponce in Truckee at the Lucky's which later became an Albertson's. He said Ponce started working at the South Lake Tahoe store about two years ago to get more hours.
The boulder which rolled down into the path of Ponce's Toyota was freed by natural forces, according to Smithen.
"It was just loose dirt," he said, citing Friday's warmer temperatures. "The way it works with erosion is it just goes little by little by little until it gives way. When it's your time, it's your time, I guess."
Smithen said the Nevada Department of Transportation makes regular checks along the highway for problem rocks. Crews knocked another boulder loose at the site of the Friday-night accident in an attempt to prevent another tragedy, he said.