Son of woman killed over parking space recalls shocking violence
In a split second, Daniel Crable’s fight to survive a knife attack in a crowded parking lot in Santa Fe Springs became his mother’s struggle as she lay on the pavement bleeding from multiple stab wounds to her neck and back.
As the assailant fled, Crable and his sister tried to keep their mother breathing, but 43-year-old Elizabeth Yanez would die a short time later at UC Irvine Medical Center.
The siblings witnessed their mother being fatally stabbed at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet on Oct. 17 -- for a parking space.
“It was a safe place in a public area -- a place where I never thought anything would happen,” Crable told The Times on Friday of the attack. “And we were even letting the guy have the space.”
Instead, “the guy” -- identified by police as 22-year-old Reggie Cervantes -- allegedly got out of the SUV that was blocking their path on the narrow one-way lane and, after initially exchanging words with the family, started punching and scratching their Hyundai Accent.
Crable said he got out to defuse the situation, but instead, Cervantes allegedly took out a knife and attacked.
“He is trying to stab me and I am trying to step out of the way,” Crable recalled. “He slashes me in the chest. I know he wants to kill me. I turn around to run and in that split second I lose sight of my mom and sister.”
In that split second, prosecutors say, is when Cervantes repeatedly stabbed Yanez before fleeing with 19-year-old Brenda Rangel, who was also in the SUV and allegedly involved in the confrontation.
Yanez was left on the ground, bleeding profusely and struggling to breathe.
“I gave her CPR,” Crable said. “I do everything a son can do to save his mother.”
His sister helped, but ultimately, it would not be enough.
On Saturday, Cervantes and Rangel were arrested while leaving an apartment in South Los Angeles.
The attack was not captured on camera, but police said evidence at the scene, together with several eyewitness accounts, tied the pair to the killing, which occurred shortly after 9:30 p.m. in the 13900 block of Alondra Boulevard.
The Whittier Police Department, which patrols Santa Fe Springs, did not announce the arrests until Thursday.
Police Officer Brad White said the swap meet is typically busy and parking is at a premium, but never before has the combination led to such violence.
“It was all over a parking space,” he said. “It started as an altercation and turned deadly.”
Los Angeles County prosecutors Tuesday charged Cervantes and Rangel with one count of murder each, as well as assault with a deadly weapon for the alleged attack on Crable.
Cervantes has previous felony convictions in 2009 for robbery and for receiving stolen property in 2010, when he was sentenced to 32 months in prison.
Rangel is due back in court Oct. 29 after pleading not guilty to the charges. Cervantes’ arraignment was scheduled for Nov. 20. Each remain behind bars in lieu of $1-million bail.
Yanez’s family, meanwhile, remained in shock and disbelief on Thursday.
They gathered at the family matriach’s home, remembering a woman who grew up in South Gate, moved to Kansas and returned to La Mirada in 2001, raising two children on her own.
“They hadn’t been to the swap meet for over a year. It was a last-minute thing,” her mother, Sally Yanez, said. “I just keep thinking, if only they’d held up a minute longer here.
“I don’t harbor any anger, vengeance, anything.... It was just such a waste of humanity.”
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