STANISLAUS COUNTY (CBS13) – Neighbors of a young mother and two of her children are in mourning after the California Highway Patrol said a suspected drunk driver ran a stop sign and slammed into their house, killing them in their sleep.
The incident happened around 1:30 a.m. Sunday on the 1200 block of Sam Avenue near Herndon Avenue in an unincorporated area of Stanislaus County just outside of Ceres.
The Stanislaus County Coroner’s office identified the woman killed as 38-year-old Mari Luz Jacinto-Hernandez. Two of Jacinto-Hernandez’s daughters, ages three and five, were also killed in the collision, say the CHP.
The 10-year-old is fighting for her life at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
“We found out because we heard a really loud boom,” said neighbor Ineida Quintero.
Quintero is saddened by the death of her neighbors who lived on the other side of the fence from her home on Herndon Avenue.
“Little kids…innocent,” she said. “Maybe if he would’ve swerved this way it would have been one of us,” she said as she stood at the front door with her three children.
Jacinto-Hernandez and her three daughters were sleeping Sunday morning when 46-year-old Felix Ferdin of Modesto drove his SUV into her duplex with such force it tossed debris onto the roof, according to the CHP.
“There’s a stop sign there. The driver ignored that stop sign by witness accounts at a high rate of speed in excess of 50 miles per hour,” said Tom Olsen, spokesperson for CHP Modesto. “This is a residential neighborhood so he was going over twice the speed limit and drove that car like a bullet, right through this house killing three people.”
Olsen believes Jacinto-Hernandez and her children were in the same room at the time of the collision.
“This was not an accident. This was 100% preventable,” he said.
Olsen said an on-scene evaluation determined Ferdin was drunk.
“This was someone who chose to drink and drive, and because of that, three people lost their lives,” he said.
Neighbors believe Ferdin was fighting with his family before he got behind the wheel.
“Two people were fighting. One of them looks like the guy I’ve seen in pictures,” she said.
Another neighbor who’s lived in the area for 20 years said he recognized Ferdin in the mugshot shared by authorities.
“I believe I’ve seen him in the neighborhood before,” said Rudy Fimbrez.
He said he didn’t know Jacinto-Hernandez or her family, but would often see the children playing in front of their home.
“I feel bad…something like that had to happen. Especially [to] children,” he said.
On Monday, a trampoline, Legos, and sidewalk chalk sat in the driveway — just feet away from a growing memorial outside the family’s home.
“It’s a sad situation,” said Fimbrez.
Ferdin was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and felony driving under the influence.
The CHP said he could face additional charges for the injuries caused to the girl still in the hospital.