An 18-year-old Simi Valley woman died Christmas Day after losing control of her car on a winding road between Simi Valley and the San Fernando Valley.

Candice Lopaty was driving home in her 2002 Hyundai when she lost control on a curve west of Box Canyon, said Steve Reid, California Highway Patrol public information officer.

The vehicle was traveling about 45 m.p.h. when it struck a tree and several rocks and landed upside down 150 feet below the street, authorities said.

Rescue workers had to use climbing gear to reach the car. Deputies pronounced Lopaty dead at the scene.

Tom Hull, a friend who owns a jewelry store in Simi Valley where Lopaty worked during the holidays, was crushed by the loss.

"She was full of life," Hull said.

Lopaty was very supportive and she loved her parents who are both deaf, he said. She is survived by five siblings and numerous extended family members who cherished her.

Hull said he will miss Lopaty's joy and her great smile. When her parents moved to Simi Valley, she lived briefly with the Hull family so she could finish school at Chatsworth High.

"She was like a sister to our daughter," said Hull. Later, Lopaty attended Moorpark College and worked part time at the jewelry store. She had plans for a future and now she's gone, he said.

After Lopaty dropped off a friend in Canoga Park, she decided to take a shortcut back to her boyfriend's house in Simi, said Hull.

According to a witness driving in the opposite direction, there was a car in front of Lopaty and one behind her at the time of the accident.

Reid hopes to hear from the two drivers so they can describe what happened. There is no indication they were involved, Reid added. It's possible that because the road is curvy, the drivers didn't see what happened.