Family members mourn five Modestans killed in Highway 12 crash

Aaliyah Buenrostro in an Instagram photo provided by her father
Aaliyah Buenrostro in an Instagram photo provided by her father

The Modesto driver in a Sacramento County crash Saturday afternoon that killed her and her four passengers and injured four people in another vehicle was facing felony charges of driving under the influence and cruelty to a child. The charges stemmed from a Sept. 12 collision, Stanislaus County Superior Court records show.

In that incident, Annalicia Mona Montoya committed a felony by willfully putting her 3-year-old daughter, Adelayanna Ortiz, “in a situation where her person or health was endangered and willfully caused or permitted the person or health of said child to be injured,” a criminal complaint filed by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office states.

Adelayanna was one of the others killed in Saturday’s crash on Highway 12 near Rio Vista in southern Sacramento County. The others who died were Aaliyah Buenrostro, 17, Denise Garcia, 19, and Garcia’s son, Ramiro, 2. All lived in Modesto.

Little information about the Sept. 12 crash was available in the criminal complaint. In addition to child cruelty, Montoya was charged with felony driving under the influence of alcohol and causing injury and felony DUI with blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or above and causing injury. Both counts state that the person injured was Jerry Castro Manzano.

Four enhancements applied to the DUI counts, stating Montoya hurt more than one person. Four other injured people are named. The case included a fourth count – a misdemeanor for driving on a revoked or suspended license.

Saturday’s collision happened about 5:35 p.m. as Montoya, driving a Honda Civic, headed east on Highway 12, about two miles from Highway 160 near Rio Vista. She attempted to pass another vehicle, lost control and was broadsided by an oncoming Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, said California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Bradley.

In the Honda, all were killed at the scene, except Ramiro Garcia, who died at a hospital.

Students and faculty members at Toby Johnson Middle School talk about their friend Aaron Nguyen who died Friday.

The occupants of the Silverado, a couple driving with two older children, were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

The CHP did not indicate alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash.

Relatives of those killed spoke of their loved ones on social media and to The Modesto Bee. An aunt of Denise Garcia’s, Emily Morris, wrote on a GoFundMe page, “Denise was a single young mother who just graduated high school and was attending college at Modesto Junior College.”

Morris told The Bee that she admired her niece’s determination. “She had overcome a lot of circumstances, with her mother’s death (about five years ago), having to go into the foster system,” she said. “She had to deal with homelessness. She still was able to conquer adversity and pursue her high school diploma.”

Garcia was a Downey High student who, when she had her son, switched to Elliott Alternative Education Center because there was no child care at Downey, Morris said. “I was very proud of her, I really was. She was a fighter, she was a good mother.”

Garcia, Montoya and Buenrostro were friends. The 17-year-old’s father, Rigo Buenrostro, said Monday morning that Aaliyah was with her boyfriend in the Bay Area on Saturday and needed a ride back to Modesto. Aaliyah’s mother, Rosanna Martinez, gave Montoya gas money to go pick her up, he said.

Aaliyah Buenrostro had been a student at Modesto High and then at Elliott Alternative Education Center, her father said. “She was about to get her GED,” Rigo Buenrostro said. “She was just a real good girl, she helped her mom a lot. She was living with me for a while then moved in with her mom to help her with the kids (Aaliyah’s three younger half sisters). She was always baby-sitting, doing errands, things like that.”

His daughter also was trying to find a job. “She was anxious to get out there” into the working world, Buenrostro said. She recently had an interview with a restaurant and “she was really excited. She asked me to make her a résumé,” he said.

His other daughter, Athena, is “taking it pretty tough, she still can’t believe her sister’s gone,” he said. The reality still hasn’t fully registered with him yet, either, Buenrostro said. “I still think she’s gonna come home. ... She was just a really bright girl. She was always smiling, she had a beautiful smile. She was gorgeous.”

Montoya’s sister, Celicia Tubera, told Sacramento ABC affiliate KXTV that she, too, would miss Aaliyah’s smile. Of her sister, she said, “I’m gonna miss her always pointing out the good in everybody.”

At the time of the crash, Montoya had passed one vehicle and was attempting to pass another when she apparently realized she didn’t have enough room and tried to merge back into the eastbound lane, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Montoya swerved, overcorrected and spun into the westbound lane, where her Civic was struck by the Silverado, CHP Officer Bradley said.

Montoya had posted on Facebook that she was “heated” about the traffic. “You know, everyone gets in a rush,” Tubera told KXTV. “Sometimes you have to take your time. ... This ended up being a consequence for all of us.”

The GoFundMe pages for the five killed in the crash are at www.gofundme.com/deniseandramiro, www.gofundme.com/eqye37wk and www.gofundme.com/fmstchmw.

Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327