Three young girls remained hospitalized Friday with broken bones and fractures, after their parents were killed earlier this week in Newport Beach by a suspected drunk driver.
Loved ones gathered at the site of the crash Friday evening, with pain and anguish, to mourn Gabriela Andrade, 28, and her husband, Henry Saldana-Mejia, 27.
Relatives said 5-year-old Sofia and 4-year-old Elena both understand that their parents are gone, but their youngest sister, 1-year-old Samantha, remains unaware.
“The oldest one, I think she remembers stuff from that night,” said their aunt, Diana Saldana, Henry’s sister. “She told me that she saw mommy and daddy were sleeping, and she tried to wake them up but she couldn’t.”
The three girls will now be raised by their aunts, family members said.
“I know that they’re resting in peace because they know the girls are going to be taken care of,” Saldana said. “We’re going to love them as much as they did. We’re gonna take good care of them.”
The family of five was driving to pick up Henry’s final paycheck Tuesday from Pelican Hill Resort, when police say 22-year-old Grace Elizabeth Coleman ran a red light on Newport Coast Drive and slammed into the family’s Nissan.
The couple were killed on impact, and their daughters were left with serious injuries even as all three girls were secured in car seats, prosecutors said.
Coleman, who was also arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in another incident in August, faces murder charges and is accused of driving with a blood alcohol content of more than .20% at the time of the deadly collision, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
“And this girl, she’s walking, she’s alive, and my brother and Gabby, they’re not coming back,” Saldana said.
Funeral arrangements are being made in Tijuana, Mexico, where Gabriela grew up, according to her sister, Juana Corrigan.
“Mi mamacita, she’s broke,” Corrigan said, weeping. “[Gabriela’s] birthday is the 28th, and I’m going to take her to my mom in a box for [a] Christmas present. It’s not fair for us.”
As the girls recover, family members pleaded for others not to drink and drive.
“Please, don’t drink and drive. There’s consequences,” Saldana said. “Right now I don’t have my brother, we don’t have Gaby. My little girls, they don’t have their parents. So please, think twice.”