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San Benito
February 27, 2024

IDs released of mother, children killed in Panoche Road fire

Identities have been released for the mother and two children killed in an early June fire on Panoche Road in southern San Benito County.

The mother who died in the fire was Crystal Asbjornsen, age 27. Her two children who passed away were Xavier Robbins, 3, and Rosa Browne, 7 months. They died of smoke inhalation and thermal injuries.

The identities and cause of death were confirmed Monday by a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office, which contracts with the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office for autopsy work.

It has been nearly eight weeks since the June 5 fire that killed the mother and two children, while there had been a delay in releasing identities because DNA was needed to confirm them, as the bodies were not identifiable when found in the trailer after the fire.

The Hollister Fire Department is handling the investigation into a cause of the fire and has yet to release that.

The three victims died in the fire to a camping trailer in the 20000 block of Panoche Road in Paicines. At 10:30 p.m. that night, the sheriff’s office responded to the Panoche Fire where authorities found the bodies.

The sheriff’s office has said a barbecue pit likely fell over and started the blaze. The agency is acting as the coroner in the case and has said it doesn’t believe there was evidence of wrongdoing that would spur a criminal investigation.

Sheriff’s investigators spoke to the boyfriend of the woman. According to Taylor, the boyfriend  received a call from Asbjornsen earlier that night, while running errands 40 minutes away, letting him know there was a fire outside the trailer and she was going to try and put it out. Witnesses also reported hearing screams on the scene, and told the sheriff’s office the woman may have run back inside in an attempt to save the children.

The boyfriend told sheriff’s officers he had used the grill earlier that day—and that he may have removed a piece of wood from the grill and placed it outside “to use later.”

-Kollin Kosmicki