JOHNSTON, Iowa — 14-year-old Ema Cardenas was killed by a hit-and-run driver while walking on a busy Des Moines street, and her sister says she will continue fighting for safer streets in her memory.
Nayelli Sandoval organized a demonstration in Johnston to spread the word about her campaign. While one aspect focuses on the desire for more speed bumps and cross walks near schools, Sandoval said she also wants to see the driver accused of striking Cardenas and fleeing the scene two weeks ago charged with vehicular manslaughter.
“Was her life not worth enough for you to stop?” Sandoval said. “What was more important than checking on the literal child you just hit on a main street? Just…why?”
Des Moines Police believe the suspect, Terra Flipping, hit Cardenas while driving on East University Avenue near East 17th Street on April 28. Police arrested Flipping a day later and charged her with fleeing the scene of a deadly accident.
Flipping is scheduled to appear in a Polk County courtroom on June 13 for the charges.
Sandoval still worries about East University Avenue in the aftermath of her sister’s death, and hopes drivers on that stretch of road change their ways soon.
“The sidewalks on University feel like they’re a foot wide,” Sandoval said. “There’s only enough room for one person to be walking. It’s just not safe. I see that and I see how fast the cars are going. Just slow down, you know?”