Family speaks out after mother, son killed in suspected DUI accident

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - On Friday, Nov. 24 just after 4 p.m., 25-year-old Juan Rodriguez Garcia pulled over in the center divider on Southbound Highway 99 near Taft Highway to change a flat tire, according to Calif. Highway Patrol.

That's when officers say Daniel Mejia, 22, slammed into the back of Rodriguez's family's 2002 Jeep with his 2017 Chevy Truck.

The Jeep ended up facing the wrong direction on the center median where it caught fire.

"We are going to do everything we can so he can pay for what he did," said  family member of Rodriguez, Yuliana Jaracuaro.

Rodriguez was not injured. His son, five-year-old Emiliano Mendoza died at the scene. Mendoza's sister, three-year-old Zoe Mendoza was taken to Kern Medical Center needing hip surgery. 

Their mother, 21-year-old, Karla Mendoza was taken to Kern Medical with major injuries. Family members say she died early Saturday morning.

"He was a really sweet guy," Jaracuaro said. "He would like to play around with us. He would always show us his new tricks."

"She was a really caring woman," Jaracuaro said. "She would always be looking out for her kids."

Dozens of passersby, like Tino Montelongo, stopped to pull Rodriguez's family out of the burning car.

"Honestly it felt like a war," Montelongo said. "Like an attack. I've never witnessed one and I've never seen anything like that in my life and so I feel like so this is how it feels to be in a terrorist attack and people just panicking."

GoFundMe is set up to help the family pay medical expenses and get Karla Mendoza and her son Emiliano's bodies to Mexico where they will be buried.

Mejia sustained minor injuries and was arrested on scene for suspected DUI and driving at a high rate of speed.  He posted bail on Monday and is due back in court Dec. 11. 

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