After 25-year-old Los Altos resident Maya Lakshmi Visvanathan died in a car accident in San Luis Obispo County nearly three weeks ago, Silicon Valley Community Foundation established a memorial fund to honor its “valued employee.”

Visvanathan was the passenger in a car driven by Campbell resident Wilder Blue Barela, 31, that spun out and struck a tree on the 5700 block of Union Road in Paso Robles July 13, according to a CHP officer in Templeton.

First called at 6:27 p.m., CHP officers estimated the accident took place just minutes prior when Barela lost control, likely because he was under the influence of alcohol. When the first CHP officer arrived at 6:45 p.m., Cal Fire and the Paso Robles Fire Department were already administering aid.

Visvanathan died at the scene; Barela was treated for his injuries at a local hospital and transported to the San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of two felonies: driving while intoxicated and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. A CHP officer said the CHP has since turned over a preliminary report to the county’s District Attorney’s Office, which has charged Barela with manslaughter.

According to the portal regulated by the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office, Barela remains in custody with bail set at $100,000.

Effect at home

After authorities notified Visvanathan’s family, Silicon Valley Community Foundation leaders learned that one of their own died.

“Maya was a member of our Philanthropic Services team,” vice president of communications Sue McAllister confirmed in an email to the Town Crier last week. “We are deeply saddened at her passing; her death is a terrible loss.”

Visvanathan’s LinkedIn profile indicates that she was a three-year employee of the Mountain View foundation and worked specifically as a donor services officer. Prior to beginning her career, Visvanathan attended UC San Diego, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication with minors in business and Spanish literature. She graduated with highest honors. Visvanathan grew up in Los Altos and graduated from Homestead High School in 2011.

To honor her life, the foundation created the fund – with a $5,000 contribution upon establishment – “so that her family will be able to make grants from the fund to charitable causes that Maya cared about,” McAllister said.

To donate to the Maya Visvanathan Memorial Fund, call 450-5444 or email