Jailed woman says she livestreamed aftermath of deadly crash to raise funds for sister's funeral

A woman accused of driving drunk as she livestreamed a crash that killed her younger sister says she continued streaming after the crash in hopes of helping to pay for her sibling’s funeral expenses.

Obdulia Sanchez, who has been detained since her July 21 arrest, described her reasoning in a four-page, double-sided letter to a reporter at KGPE-TV in Fresno.

“I made that video because I knew I had more than 5,000 followers,” the 18-year-old Stockton resident wrote. “It was the only way my sister would get a decent burial. I would never expose my sister like that. I anticipated the public donating money because my family isn't rich."

Sanchez apologized for making the video, saying, “I look awful, but I accomplished my goal.”

More than $12,000 was donated to a GoFundMe account created by the family to help pay for her 14-year-old sister’s funeral.

Sanchez, who is charged with half a dozen criminal offenses, including gross vehicular manslaughter, told the station in a separate interview that the video wasn’t her first livestream while driving. She said livestreaming was “like a reflex,” an act carried out “all the time.”

Sanchez’s case gained attention after she broadcast the July 21 crash on Instagram Live.

The video showed Sanchez looking into the camera and singing as she drove on a highway in Los Banos, with her sister, Jacqueline Sanchez, and a second 14-year-old girl in the backseat.

As Sanchez recorded herself, she lost control of her 2003 Buick and crashed. The video stopped.

During that time, Sanchez told the news station, she called 911 for help.

After the crash, Sanchez started recording again. She panned to the body of her sister, who was lying in a grassy field and appeared to have suffered major head trauma.

As the video streamed, Sanchez said, “I … killed my sister, OK? I know I am going to jail for life, all right? This is the last thing that I wanted to happen, OK?”

Merced County Deputy Dist. Atty. Harold Nutt, who is prosecuting the case, has said Sanchez’s blood alcohol content was 0.10% at the time of the crash.

He said Sanchez was inattentive, driving erratically and not holding the wheel.

Sanchez’s court-appointed attorney, Ramnik Samrao, told The Times last week that other factors may have led to the crash, including issues with the tread on the vehicle’s tires that caused one to blow out.

Samrao said Sanchez watched the video for the first time from jail on Aug. 13. At that moment, he said, she realized the gravity of her actions.

Sanchez told KGPE she has several goals for her future and hopes to tell her story to students. She said she plans to dedicate a music album to her sister and write a song about the dangers of texting and driving.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA

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UPDATES:

7:40 p.m.: This article’s headline was updated to clarify that Obdulia Sanchez was referring to video livestreamed after the crash.

This article was originally published at 10 a.m.

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