Eighteen months after their daughter was killed in a drunk driving collision, the Blair family is starting to find closure. Bernanbe Mendoza pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter Monday. A judge sentenced him to ten years in prison for the death of 19-year-old Rebecca Blair, who died March 14th, 2004.
Mendoza was driving drunk on west Loop 289 near 4th Street. He hit Blair's car head on, and killed her. Three other passengers in her car were also injured. Mendoza's blood alcohol tested 0.28. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire was in the courtroom during the sentencing and has an exclusive interview with the family.
After Mendoza pleaded guilty the Blair's had an option to give an impact statement. Seven friends and family members spoke to Mendoza telling him how much they miss Rebecca. As hard as it was to face him, they agree they had to do it in honor of their friend, daughter and sister.
It was a day of consoling and remembering. For 18 months, friends and family of Becca Blair have been waiting for the day they could face the man who killed her in a drunk driving collision. They chose to give an impact statement to Bernabe Mendoza so that he would know the person he killed March 14, 2004.
Becca's mother, Mary Blair said, "I wanted her to be seen as a person and not just the driver of the car that happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time."
Mary remembers her daughter's smile and how she always made her two older sisters laugh. Giving a statement to Mendoza helps the family feel closure. They said they saw a hint of remorse in his eyes. However, Becca's father, John Blair said it will still be difficult to move on.
"You try to go on and say, 'Yes, she's in a better place,' but you still miss her and you wish it could've been different circumstances," he said.
Becca was one of 1,642 people in the state who died in alcohol related accidents in 2004. Another reason they chose to give a statement to Mendoza, they don't want Becca to become a statistic.
"We would be doing Becca a disservice not to speak out, not to get involved in talking to people about drinking and driving," said Mary.
The Blair's will continue to tell Becca's story in effort to prevent another drunk driving death. "It's time to start doing something about it," said John. "You want to drink, no problem, just stay out of the car."
Becca would be 21-years-old now. Her family wants to send a big thank you to Mothers Against Drunk Driving for all the help and emotional support they've provided.
|Courts & Crime|