PUEBLO, Colo. - Friends and family of a teenage girl killed in a car crash last week are eager for the driver to turn himself in to police.
Pueblo police say Frankie Perea, 26, was behind the wheel of a maroon Cadillac that crashed into a power pole on Pueblo Boulevard and Northern Avenue. The crash happened Friday around 2:30 a.m. Bernadette Trujillo, 16, was in the car and died. Police say Perea, as well as two others who were in the vehicle, fled from the scene.
"If the roles were reversed that night, Bernadette would've not left anybody in that car," said Natalie Armijo, Trujillo's aunt. "She had too much of a heart to leave anybody the way she got left."
Trujillo had recently finished her sophomore year at Central High School. Friends described her as selfless, outgoing and funny.
"Her mom began to call me her daughter because I was so close to Bernadette and my dad began to call her his daughter because we were so close," said Marissa Montaño, Trujillo's friend.
Jonette Garcia went to school with Trujillo. The two had been friends since second grade. "She was my best friend. She did not deserve to die the way she did. Not alone," she said.
KRDO NewsChannel 13 looked into Perea's criminal history and found that it dates back to 2004. In 2006, Perea pleaded guilty to drug possession. Two years later, he pleaded guilty to harassment.
"He took my best friend's life and he's out there running free. I hope he gets caught. This is tragic and her mom's going through so much right now," Montaño said.
Armijo said her niece's death has drawn negative comments on Facebook. She said the family is overwhelmed with emotions and is asking for respect at this time.
"I think the tragedy to this story is that she got involved with the wrong crowd," Armijo said.
Perea faces charges of vehicular homicide, failure to remain at a scene involving death and driving under suspension. Those who have information about Perea's whereabouts are asked to call Pueblo Crime Stoppers at 542-STOP.
The family is accepting donations to pay for funeral arrangements. Donations can be made to the Bernadette Trujillo Memorial Fund with Roseanne E. Martinez. The family has an account set up at Security Service Federal Credit Union but donations are being accepted at all credit unions.