TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — It’s been 13 years since a daughter and nephew were lost in Travis County’s first DWI murder case. On the anniversary, the family is taking the opportunity to educate.
“Thirteen years ago, I got a call that my niece and my nephew were in an accident,” said Debra Vasquez, whose daughter was also in the car at the time of the crash. “I thought it was a fender-bender and I got here and it was all blocked off.”
Her daughter, niece and nephew were T-boned by a driver going 85 mph at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. and Airport Boulevard on April 29 in 2006. Both her daughter and nephew lost their lives.
Erica Vasquez was just 16-years-old and a sophomore at Manor High School.
“My daughter, Erica, loved to help people out here, she was the type of person that would give her shirt off her back,” Vazquez said. Her nephew, Elias, was only five.
“These are children that were taken senselessly for a decision that you could have made otherwise,” Vasquez said.
They were both killed by a 19-year-old drunk driver, Daniel Talamantes.
“I hurt every day, I don’t get to see my daughter,” she said. “Our family is not the same and it’s been torn apart.”
But she’s turning what happened into motivation to impact other people’s lives.
“I’m out here to do safety educational awareness, due to drinking and driving and drugs,” Vasquez said.
She aims to spread as much awareness about not drinking and driving as she can. Vasquez also wanted to remind people to always use a ridesharing service, if possible.
“To me, this is my healing process to be able to bring safety awareness and education about it, so I’m trying to make a difference out here if I can,” she said.