DES MOINES, Iowa — The hit-and-run death of Ema Cardenas has left 16-year-old Nayelli Sandoval numb. Within moments she not only lost her best friend but her younger sister who was looking forward to turning 15 this coming Saturday the 7th of May.
“We were like peanut butter and jelly,” Nayelli said with a laugh. She added, “She was just always there. I go in my car and that was her seat. It is still exactly how she left it. Her pencils are literally right there on the side of the door.”
On April 28th Ema was walking home from Des Moines East High School when she was struck in the 1600 block of East University Avenue by a vehicle that fled the scene. Ema died of her injuries at the hospital. Thirty-eight-year-old Terra Flipping was arrested the following day.
Now the scene of the crash has become a memorial. Nayelli is a Junior at East High School and was just two blocks away at track practice when her sister was hit. Nayelli hopes city leaders will discuss the possibility of changing school zones in the district. The crash site is just a half-mile from East High School but has a speed limit of 35 miles per hour.
Less than two weeks prior to Ema being hit by a car two teenagers were struck by a vehicle on Southwest Ninth Street just minutes after school was let out at Lincoln High School. “The speed limits the school zones aren’t even that far. There are students that live all the way down there and I feel like the school zones should be extended and farther out. There should be speed bumps,” said Nayelli.
The family of Ema Cardenas will be holding a visitation open to the public on Thursday at Hamilton’s Funeral Home from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. A private funeral service at Calvary Apostolic Church is scheduled for Friday.