Madera Funeral for Drunk Driver Victim

August 27, 2009 6:59:22 PM PDT
Family, friends, and co-workers of Maria Flores-Rodriguez gathered at Saint Joachim's church in Madera to say goodbye to a woman they describe as a gentle spirit and dedicated mother.Nancy Prush, sister said "She was sweet, very quiet; she was a single mother, and very responsible with her kids and with her work."

Jessenia Prushm, Neice said "I always thought she was a good mother and aunt to me."

The 36 year old and four other women were carpooling to work at Chukchansi casino when authorities said a drunk driver slammed into them on highway 41, killing Flores-Rodriguez, along with 38 year old Elena Mendoza and 39 year old Estela Frias.

Yorgina Ortiz, Coworker said "All three ladies left 3 children behind, and it's going to be a great loss, it is."

Thursday morning the man accused of causing that loss appeared before a Madera County Judge. Highway Patrol Officers said Justin Rice was under the influence of alcohol and possibly meth when he crashed head-on into the women's car. But during this hearing the 32 year old pled not guilty to an amended criminal complaint charging him with ten felony counts, including three counts of murder.

Yorgina Ortiz said: "I know they had mentioned he had no remorse the day of the accident, but I hope now that he is behind bars he'll maybe think about what he did."

And now as family members mourn the loss of Flores-Rodriguez, they're hoping rice will face a punishment severe enough to keep others from suffering the way they have.

Nancy Prush, sister said "If we don't punish this guy for what he did, others are going to think it's alright. And today it's me and the other girls, but tomorrow could be anybody who's out there."

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