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East Los Angeles family mourns victims in Nevada crash

April 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Southern California family is in mourning after five relatives were killed in a Nevada highway accident. The 18-year-old driver of the other vehicle appeared in court Monday, charged with felony DUI.

Three brothers in their 40s, a woman and a 13-year-old girl, all members of the same family, were killed when an alleged drunken driver rear-ended their minivan. The family was on their way back from Colorado, where they had gone to visit the brothers' sick father.

"I saw my mom sometimes every day. I talked to my mom a few times during the day, and to my dad. I'm going to miss having those conversations," said Esmeralda Fernandez, daughter of two of the victims.

Esmeralda Fernandez lost both her parents, two uncles and a 13-year-old relative in a violent crash early Saturday morning on I-15 in Nevada.

Family members gathered at their East Los Angeles home Monday to discuss funeral arrangements after driving back from Nevada Sunday.

Jean Soriano, 18, appeared in a Nevada courtroom Monday. He was charged with driving under the influence in the crash. Investigators say beer bottles were found in his car.

"We can be upset because he's alive and he basically destroyed a lot of families," said Griselda Fernandez, daughter of two of the victims.

Genaro Fernandez, Raudel Fernandez-Avila, Belan Fernandez, Leonardo Fernandez-Avila and 13-year-old Angela Sandoval were all killed in the crash.

Authorities say two others in the van were wearing their seatbelts and were hospitalized in serious condition, including a 15-year-old boy who lost his leg.

"I love my family very much and just, I'm still hurting inside," said Genaro Fernandez Jr.

"I know we have to forgive and forget, but how am I going to forget my parents. But I have to forgive him for killing my parents and my family," said Esmeralda Fernandez.

Sunday night, devastated friends of the youngest victim, Angela Sandoval, left flowers and candles at the family's home.

"She was my best, best friend I ever had. She would tell me all her secrets and I would tell her all mine. It hurts a lot hearing that she died," said Julio Chan, a friend of Angela's.

Soriano faces five felony counts of DUI and two counts of inflicting bodily harm, plus two misdemeanor charges of driving without license and not slowing down. He's was held on $3.5 million bond.

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