Fresno Family Mourns Death of 13-Yr-Old Girl

December 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Family members are remembering a thirteen year old girl -- killed Sunday night in a car crash -- that Fresno Police say -- may have been caused by a drunk driver.Monique Sandhu left her home with a fourteen year old friend. She died hours later in a horrible accident that also killed two others, including the driver.

The driver had a prior DUI from earlier this year and was driving on a suspended license at the time of the wreck. Devastated family members are angry and frustrated about circumstances that led to these deaths.

Monique Sandhu loved music and talking on the phone ... Family members say they spent all night looking for her Sunday after she left with a friend and never returned. They found Monique where they never expected ... the coroner's office.

Monique's aunt Sarah Martinez said, "Nobody expects to bury their child at 13. That's the hardest part because it was just such a short time that we had her."

The eighth grader was one of three teenagers killed when the car she was in, slammed into the center median, toppled a light pole, then hit another car. Investigators say the white compact car was traveling at a very high rate of speed. The driver, identified as Jose Barriga died at the scene, as well as 16 year old Francisco Gonzalez.

A young man in the front passenger seat suffered moderate injuries. He was the only one wearing a seat belt. Monique's 14 year old friend also survived, but is in critical condition.

"Know who your kids are hanging around with and make sure you teach them to wear a seatbelt. Things could've been differently if everyone was wearing a seatbelt. Now ... alcohol and cars just don't mix at all," said Martinez.

Counselors were on campus at Tehipite Middle School Tuesday morning to talk with Monique's classmates. She was well liked by many.

Tehipite Middle School Counselor Cheryl Kitchen said, "She got along with every student ... always had a smile on her face, would come up every morning and greet me ... ask me how my day was going. She would do that with everyone ... staff and students."

As family members prepare to lay Monique to rest, they are struggling with feelings of anger for the driver whose actions left them with such a void.

"The circumstances around this whole thing is just, it's mind-blowing," said Martinez.

Family members are planning to have car washes all weekend to help pay for funeral expenses. They are holding them at gas stations at First and Shields and Willow and Shaw.

We also contacted the driver's family; they did not want to talk with us.


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