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Palmdale DUI crash victim's family holds vigil

A vigil was held in Palmdale in memory of a 16-year-old girl who was killed by a suspected drunken driver.
April 21, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
A vigil was held Sunday night in Palmdale in memory of a 16-year-old girl who was killed after a suspected drunken driver plowed his SUV into her bedroom.

Jacqueline Sermeno says her sister-in-law, Giselle Mendoza, had so many years ahead of her.

"It's just hard to believe that she's gone. She was so innocent, she was just sleeping," Sermeno said, in tears.

Family members of the victim, including her mother, hugged and cried around a small memorial with flowers, candles and pictures of the teen.

On Sunday night, friends and family held a vigil remembering the sophomore high school student. The memorial honoring the 16-year-old was placed steps away from where Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies say a suspected drunk driver rammed his Nissan Pathfinder through the girl's bedroom around 4 a.m.

The SUV was embedded in the building. Mendoza, who was sleeping, was killed on impact.

"She was just a baby, she still had her life ahead of her," said Sermeno.

Her fellow Palmdale High School classmates were also in mourning Monday morning. Counselors were called in to help students grieve.

Roberto Rodriguez, 20, was booked for vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol following the incident.

Deputies say Good Samaritans detained Rodriguez at the scene until authorities arrived and took him into custody. He has since posted $100,000 bail. He is due in court on Tuesday.

Tony Diaz of Palmdale held a sign near the scene of the crime Tuesday, encouraging people not to drink and drive.

"Stay home," he said.