Briana Paul Gomez, a freelance journalist with Middle Eastern and Latino roots, was the victim of a fatal rollover accident Sunday morning in Golden Hill, her editor confirmed Monday.
“We are all devastated at this tragic loss of a young reporter passionate about diversity issues,” said Miriam Raftery, editor of the online East County Magazine. “Briana always strived to tell all sides of the issues she covered, and had a promising future as a journalist. Our hearts are with her family, especially her young daughter.”
Raftery told Times of San Diego that a close friend of the 31-year-old single mother said a silver Ford Explorer at the state Route 94 crash scene — as photographed by OnScene.TV — was Gomez’s vehicle.
The California Highway Patrol said the crash occurred about 7 a.m. Sunday on the westbound highway at 30th Street. CHP officers dispatched to the scene found a Ford Explorer on its roof in the No. 1 lane of the freeway.
San Diego Fire-Rescue personnel worked to free the trapped victim, who was pinned under the vehicle, but the driver was declared dead at the scene.
Gomez — who also went by Briana Ghaffery on social media — earned an MBA in 2016 from the private University of La Verne east of Los Angeles and a bachelor of science in international business from Azusa Pacific University in 2012, according to her LinkedIn profile.
East County magazine said she co-founded a nonprofit group — the Middle Eastern Rights Association — to help Southern California Middle Eastern communities with refugee aid, discussion forums, spreading information and educator resources.
“Originally from La Mesa, [Gomez] lived in Japan for five years in her youth,” said a bio on the news site. “She later took an interest in traveling and learning about global cultures and cultural identities. She taught English in Hungary in 2013 before obtaining her master’s degree, then returning to the U.S. to pursue journalism and research multicultural communication.”
Gomez, who most recently lived in the Rancho San Diego area near El Cajon, wrote for online and local publications in Budapest and in her native San Diego, including coverage in East County Magazine on multicultural communities.
“She is passionate about human rights and minority issues, bringing awareness to ethnic groups in our region. She also sits on the committee for the Arab and Muslim Community Coalition and is an active member of the San Diego Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee and San Diego House of Lebanon,” the site added.
She posted travelogue-style essays on her blog: The Gold Chain Theory, which included photos from her modeling career.
In January 2019, Gomez sued to nullify her marriage to Tarek Kabban, who said Tuesday he was the father of Gomez’s toddler daughter, Aya.
Kabban posted a photo of himself and Gomez on his Twitter account Monday and tweeted: “I love you Briana. Rest In Peace. You will always be my everything.”
In her final weeks, Gomez became embroiled in a Twitter argument over whether she was taking sides in the Bear spray clash between an Antifa-like group and Trump-supporting “Patriots” a block from the “We Are Israel” rally two Sundays ago at Prescott Promenade in El Cajon.
Labeled a “fascist journalist” by at least one Twitter account, she contended she was fair to both sides and wasn’t showing sympathy to a “defender” group called Exiled Patriots led by Mike Forzano — a reference to his split with the Facebook-banned Defend East County group.
On Saturday, a day before her death, Gomez replied to @WeStandUnitedSD: “If you don’t remove the fascist before my name you’ll find yourself legally liable.”
On her website, Gomez defined herself with the phrase “champagne socialism.”
She wrote: “The art of living it up, living life to the fullest, appreciating blessings, drinking champagne and yet knowing there are deeper struggles in this world that need attention, that all humans deserve equality, and that if you’re in a position of privilege it’s up to you to lift up those who are oppressed.”
Updated at 2:26 p.m. Aug. 3, 2021