Festival manager dies in car accident

Saba Shirazi, a communications manager for the Newport Beach Film Festival, died in a car accident in San Diego on July 1. She was 32.

Shirazi was part of the momentum behind the annual event and was in charge of coordinating celebrities and media scrambling to have time with them. She was born in Tehran, Iran, and moved to California at age 8. She majored in apparel marketing and design at Cal State Sacramento and quickly got on a career fast track in publishing after graduation.

Shirazi was the marketing manager at Sacramento Magazine before moving to Southern California, where she helped launch and brand Riviera Magazine.

Todd Quartararo of Q&A Marketing, a Newport Beach- and San Diego-based marketing firm, hired her three years ago at the urging of others in the publishing industry.

"She took her job very seriously," Quartararo said. "It's funny, on her job interview she mentioned, 'I like to work. I like to keep busy.' She was the consummate perfectionist. She did a phenomenal job."

Besides being a force behind the Newport Beach Film Festival, Shirazi worked with Cirque de Soleil and the Segerstrom family, who built South Coast Plaza.

"It may sound silly and shallow, but we worked events like the film festival in these chaotic environments and she was always refined and dignified," Quartararo said. "I'll always remember her big smile."

Shirazi was killed just before midnight when her black 1997 Infiniti QX4 SUV lost control on the northbound 5 Freeway in University City, near Gilman Drive, and slammed into the median, according to the San Diego County Coroner's Office. The car bounced back into the traffic lanes and rolled over, where it was struck by a Ford Focus.

Shiraz was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Focus suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Shirazi is survived by her father, Habib Shirazi, sister Usha Mutschler, brother-in-law Cary Mutschler and her nephew Arian and niece Bridgett.

A memorial celebrating Shirazi's life is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sunday at SoLo, 309 South Cedros Ave. in Solana Beach. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the Surfrider Foundation, where a memorial has been set up in Shirazi's name.

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