Child dies after alleged DUI driver crashes into Porterville apartment

Police say he crashed into a nearby apartment where a child was sleeping.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- She could be shy, as teenagers tend to be.

But family members say 13-year-old Cambria Soto would make everyone smile, and showed what it meant to love others unconditionally.

"She got her life taken from her and she just had so much to live for," said Martin Garcia, her uncle. "It's not something you get back."

Porterville Police say 19-year-old Alexis Mendoza Tapia was drunk and speeding down Cobb Street when he jumped a curb, smashed through a fence, and made direct impact with the apartment where Cambria and her grandmother slept.

Cambria was hit. Her grandmother was not, and that may be a miracle because the car traveled through the entire apartment.

The force of the crash even sent a bathroom toilet flying into a neighbor's yard.

"There were some neighboring residents, neighbors that basically told the driver to stay on scene," Porterville Police Sgt. Ron Moore said. "He crawled out of the car, said you're not going anywhere, and waited for us to arrive."

Cambria was airlifted to Fresno, where she died several hours later. Garcia says this is the most tragic thing that has ever happened to his family.

But he says his brother, Cambria's father, is being strong for everyone.

"He's doing the best he can, just like everybody else," Garcia said. "It just hurts."

Garcia knows no one can change what happened, but he also knows it didn't have to happen. It's why he hopes others will come to realize the real dangers of drinking and driving.

"You're causing so much hurt on these people who don't deserve any of it," he said.

Porterville Police say Tapia was booked into the Tulare County Jail but has since bailed out.

To help Soto's family with funeral expenses, you can visit their GoFundMe.
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