Sandhu Family Sees Tragedy One More Time

December 5, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A series of carwashes are taking place in Fresno and Clovis this weekend to help raise money for the family of a 13-year old killed in a tragic crash. Monique Sandhu died last Sunday and Saturday Action News learned Sandhu's family has had to deal with tragedy before.At 17 Victoria Barile finds herself digging for strength beyond her years. "I have to be the branch that holds all the leaves together," she said.

Sunday Barile's 13 year old sister Monique Sandhu died in a car crash along with two other teens. One of them, 18-year old Jose Barriga, was believed to be drunk when he crashed into a light pole with such force it split the car in half. Court records show he had a prior DUI conviction before he turned 18.

Barile said, "A lot of things out there and the world right now ... its just, there's a lot of bad stuff. It's influencing kids and they should be home with their family."

Barile is keeping herself together by joining with family and friends in Clovis to raise money for her sister's funeral costs. A similar one is taking place in East Central Fresno. This family has dealt with tragedy before. The step father, Michael Cruz, adopted several children when authorities said they lived in an abusive household.

Five years ago in Central Fresno a baby was found scalded by boiling water and covered in yellow mustard. The baby had five siblings. Cruz heard the news and adopted them. This father of 10 was not up for talking on camera but thanks everyone for helping lay his child to rest. He realizes this loss has affected others in the community.

"I have a 13 year old daughter. That's why it strikes home," said Ernie Gonzales who could not pass up the opportunity to help. "It's just a tragedy to have something like this happen so close to Christmas and it's just ... my heart really just really goes out to the family," said Gonzales.

Barile said her step-father's guidance and leadership has given her the ability to make it through this tough time. "I'll have my time to break down but right now I have to be strong for my family," she said with a stoic tone.


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