Palmdale family hosts vigil for victim of Easter DUI crash

Giselle Mendoza, 16, was crushed in her sleep

4/25/2014, midnight

A 16-year-old Palmdale girl was killed when an alleged drunken driver crashed his SUV into apartment where she was sleeping.

Giselle Mendoza was crushed to death on a couch at about 3:50 a.m. on Easter morning at Avenue R and Tenth Street East, according to sheriff’s deputies.

The 20-year-driver, crashed a 2007 Nissan Pathfinder into the corner of the building, said Lt. Ken Wright of the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station.

He was later identified as Roberto Rodriguez of Palmdale, and was booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, said a deputy at the sheriff’s Palmdale station. Rodriguez was the only person in the Nissan.

“When deputies arrived, citizens were detaining the suspect,” Wright said. “The car is actually embedded in the building. The girl had been asleep in her bed when the Pathfinder crashed through the wall.”

Additional deputies responded to the scene and tried to enter the building by pulling away the damaged wall, but were unable to gain full access, he said. County firefighters were able to get into the apartment and found the teenager dead inside her bedroom.

Paramedics took Rodriguez to a hospital where he was treated for minor injuries. He was later booked at the Palmdale sheriff’s station and was released on $100,000 bail at 7:49 p.m.

ABC7 reported that Rodriguez lived across the street from the victim.

A candlelight vigil attended by nearly 200 family members, friends, community residents, was held Sunday in memory of the victim.