5-year-old child and mother killed by suspected drunken driver in crash

Photo provided by family

A 5-year-old boy and his mother were killed after their car was hit by a suspected drunken driver Friday.

The crash happened on Highway 99 near Highway 119.

Juan Garcia, 25, was changing a flat tire on his Jeep in the center median on Hwy. 99 when his car was struck by 22-year-old Daniel Mejia.

The crash sent the Jeep into the center divider and left Garcia's family trapped inside, according to the California Highway Patrol. The Jeep then caught fire with the family still inside.

Several bystanders who saw the crash got out of their vehicles to help those who were still inside the Jeep.

Emiliano Mendoza, 5, was pronounced dead at the scene.

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

His 21-year-old mother, Karla Mendoza, was taken to the hospital, where she later died.

"She was a really caring woman," Jaracuar said. "She was always looking out for her kids. She was a great mother and a great wife, too."

Her 3-year-old daughter Zoey Mendoza was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries.

Family said she had hip surgery and was released from the hospital. They said at this point her father is not leaving her side.

Mejia was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to the CHP.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the funeral cost.


NOTE: The Kern County coroner on Tuesday, Nov. 28, released the child's name as Axel Rodriguez, of Half Moon Bay. The family previously identified him to Eyewitness News as Emiliano Mendoza. The family on Tuesday said the boy's name was Axel Emiliano Rodriguez Mendoza, and they said he went by Emiliano.

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