In Anaheim, three traffic deaths leave a sense of shock

Karla Martinez carried the framed photographs to the growing streetside memorial in Anaheim.

There they were: hugging, showing off for the camera, old friends having good times, all smiles.

But the good times had been swept away: 21-year-old Sheyla Mendoza, her mother Carmen Mendoza, 56, and cousin Stephanie Henriquez, 21, were dead.


The three family members were fatally injured late Saturday as they walked down Western Avenue in the heart of Anaheim after a baby shower.

They were struck by a drunk driver, police say. On Monday, a memorial of candles, homemade posters and photos, placed on the sidewalk near the site where the three were hit, swelled in size.

“She was always there for her good friends,” said Nathalia Ochoa, who had played high school basketball with Sheyla.

Ochoa brought three candles to the memorial, one for each victim.

The three were hit shortly after 11:07 p.m. Saturday near Western and Lincoln Avenue. Police said a late-model Honda Civic struck the three as they crossed the street.

Sheyla Mendoza was pronounced dead at the scene; Carmen Mendoza and Henriquez died later at UC Irvine Medical Center.

The driver, Anthony Lewis Sanchez, 40, and a passenger were injured in the accident and taken to a hospital. After Sanchez was released, he was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter.

Ochoa, who lives nearby, heard the sirens shortly after the accident.

Marisol Terrazas, 35, Sheyla Mendoza’s eldest sibling, said Sheyla and Henriquez had grown up together and were looking forward to planning a second baby shower for Sheyla’s brother Albert. The shower Saturday night was for his girlfriend.

The relatives — Sheyla, Stephanie and Albert — were inseparable, and friends often referred to them as the “three musketeers.”

Henriquez was a student at Cal State Fullerton, and Sheyla attended community college, Terrazas said.

The two were mature and respectful, opting to spend time with family rather than go out and party, friends said.

Sheyla, who had four siblings, loved to cook, especially her mother’s arroz con leche recipe.

“Her concern was keeping everyone happy,” Terrazas said.