A crash that killed a 6-year-old girl Sunday east of Modesto also sent her mother to the hospital, then to jail, accused of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The single-vehicle crash occurred about 4:20 a.m. Sunday on Albers Road just north of Milnes Road. Turlock resident Angelica Castellanos-Davila was driving a 2008 Hyundai Elantra when she left the roadway and struck a power pole, said Officer Eric Parsons, California Highway Patrol spokesman.
It appears the vehicle rolled over before it struck the pole, Parsons said. Elliana Alicia Davila was buckled into a child restraint seat, but the seat itself either had been unbuckled or improperly buckled, according to the CHP, so the child was ejected from the car. She was pronounced dead at the scene, Parsons said.
Castellanos-Davila suffered minor to moderate injuries – lacerations and abrasions – so was transported to Memorial Medical Center, then charged with driving under the influence. Monday afternoon, she was in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail, charged with DUI causing great bodily injury, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and child endangerment. Bail was set at $100,000.
Elliana was a kindergartner at Denair Elementary Charter Academy. She “was a beautiful, sweet little girl and will be dearly missed by all who knew her,” Principal Sara Michelena wrote in a letter to DECA families that was posted on the school’s website.
The school told students of Elliana’s death in order to provide accurate information and avoid rumors, the letter states. “Counselors, teachers and other support staff have been, and will continue to offer students, teachers and parents a time to talk and share feelings,” it reads.
A gofundme page was established Sunday with a $12,000 goal to pay funeral expenses for Elliana. By midafternoon Monday, more than $4,000 had been raised.
An aunt of Elliana’s, identified only as Sonia, wrote on the page, “My daughter was always excited when she knew she was going to play with Elliana. She was always smiling, she loved to have fun and loved her family.”
A great-uncle, Hector Perez, told The Bee, “She loved to have sleepovers with her cousins. She was very curious, a very happy kid. She loved bows in her hair. She liked drawing, you know, she loved to sing.”
In Paul Davila and Angelica Castellanos-Davila, she had loving parents. Castellanos-Davila “was a very caring mom, she made a mistake, and it had a tragic consequence to it,” Perez said. “Paul is a loving dad. He’s a military veteran who did two tours overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq. She (Elliana) loved Skyping and Facetiming with him.”
Castellanos-Davila, 27, works for Tuolumne County social services, said her attorney, Stockton-based Gil Somera. His client “is obviously completely distraught and emotionally at the lowest point possible,” he said. “... She was able to get out of the car and saw the worst nightmare she could see.”
He said he does not know what Castellanos-Davila’s blood alcohol content was determined to be and has not had a discussion with her about how much if anything she had to drink before driving. But “we know it was 4 in the morning ... she was extremely tired at the time,” he said. Somera said there needs to be “a full investigation before a rush to judgment.”
Asked where the mother and daughter were traveling that morning, Somera said he didn’t want to comment further on the case until Castellanos-Davila’s arraignment, which he believed would be Tuesday.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327