Friends and classmates of 13-year-old Angela Sandoval hold a candlelight… (Patrick T. Fallon / For the…)
There are countless choices facing the Fernandez family after a violent car crash claimed the lives of three brothers, a mother and child. There are funerals to organize, affairs to settle and phone calls to make.
But no one in the Fernandez family is sure what, if anything, they will tell the men’s father.
Genaro Fernandez 41, Leonardo Fernandez-Avila, 45, and Raudel Fernandez-Avila, 49, were three of five people killed in a car crash on a remote highway outside Las Vegas about 3 a.m. Saturday.
The men were returning to the Los Angeles area after visiting their father, Elijio Fernandez Sr. in Denver. The ailing 79-year-old is reportedly in failing health. The surviving Fernandez brother, Elijio Jr., 54, told The Times he may not tell his father what happened.
Elijio Fernandez Jr. said he was supposed to go with his brothers to visit his father, but he stayed behind because the van was full and he never really forgave his father for abandoning them early in their lives.
“My brother and sister and I had to work hard to move the family ahead,” he said. “I just feel bad because he abandoned us and he never did anything for us.”
The oldest Fernandez brother, Juan, died six years ago. All that's left for him is a sister in Colorado whom he rarely speaks to.
Elijio Fernandez Jr.’s brothers’ deaths have made him lose his appetite and feel emotionally drained. On Sunday, about 3 p.m., he said, he only had water and coffee. On Monday, he forced himself to finally eat something.
"I wasn't doing so well on Saturday," Elijio Fernandez Jr. said. "I don't think we'll be able to move on until we can bury them."
The two others who died were Raudel’s wife, Belen Fernandez, 53; and Angela Sandoval, 13, the daughter of Leonardo’s girlfriend, Maria Cardenas, who was driving.
Cardenas and her 15-year-old son Eddie were the van’s only survivors. Eddie lost a leg, relatives said.
Genaro Fernandez Jr., 22, was among the first relatives to hear the news of his father’s and uncles’ deaths. He last talked with his father, Genaro Sr., who said his father’s health was improving. The group decided they would come back Saturday instead of Friday.
“They were happy and they were on their way back,” Fernandez Jr. said. “Then, sure enough, everything went to hell.”
The van was hit by alleged drunk driver Jean Soriano, 18, of Orange County. Soriano’s Dodge Durango rear-ended the Fernandez van, sending it spinning, then flipping over. Soriano suffered minor injuries and is facing multiple felony counts in Clark County, Nev. His 23-year-old passenger, whom authorities did not identify, was treated at the hospital.
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