ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - They were three Arlington teenagers: Two were 14, the other was 16. None had driver’s licenses, and were years away from being old enough to drink.
But they did both those things Sunday and, tragically, 14-year-old Valeria Rodriguez died. On Monday, however, her family said they aren’t blaming anyone for her death. They’re only remembering her life with a vigil, held outside the family’s Arlington home.
“I mean, I wish I could have stopped it,” Lauri Rodriguez, Valeria’s 19-year-old sister, said. “I wish I could’ve woken up around that time to stop her. I don’t know why God chose her, but there’s a reason.”
On Sunday, Valeria’s family said she snuck out of the house and into a car with her 14-year-old boyfriend and a 16-year-old friend. Somehow, the teens got the idea to drive to Oklahoma. They crashed in Denton. Valeria was thrown from the car and killed.
Police said alcohol was involved, lots of it. Evidence and interviews with the two survivors show that beer and Four Loko were consumed. The latter comes in a 23.5 ounce can, and each packs the same alcohol content as five beers and the caffeine of a tall cup of coffee.
One of the young men interviewed told them the group had at least 12 cans of beer and four or five cans of Four Loko.
“We went to a friend’s house to get some beer. Then, we went to a little store here on the corner,” said Cesar Villa, who was in the backseat of the vehicle when it crashed against a guardrail along I-35W in Denton at about 3:30 a.m.
“We went to the drive-through. And they sold me the beer,” he said.
Police are investigating the matter, and said the passenger told them they had obtained the alcohol from a friend.
“I just feel tired, devastated,” Villa said. “I don’t know, a feeling I never had.”
Villa said he hopes his other young friends who still drink will get the message from what happened. He said he knows he has.
“It’s just really stupid for what I did,” he said. “I will never, ever do it again.”
Villa was not charged with a crime. The 14-year-old driver was charged with intoxication manslaughter and is currently held in a juvenile center. His name has not been released because he is a minor.
Valeria’s parents said she wanted to become a photographer. Her funeral will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Carillo Funeral Home in Fort Worth. Many classmates from Sam Houston High School are expected to attend.