David Alberto Sanchez killed in I-95 bus crash
(WJLA) - For several hours early Sunday, a section of I-95 South just outside Lorton was brilliantly lit, as police investigated the scene of a terrible hit-and-run crash that took the life of a Woodbridge man.
"Everything is gone now," Ester Hernandez said quietly, looking down at a photo of her son, David Sanchez. "The hardest part is coming, now that we know he's dead."
Dozens of family members and friends crowded Sanchez's home Sunday, remembering a good son, a mentor to his siblings, and young man with so much promise.
His mother says he had dreams of joining the military, and in recent months was attending college to get computer training.
"My son had a lot of friends and everybody loves him," Hernandez says. "That's why they are here, trying to support the family."
Family members say Sanchez, who was 24, had helped to arrange the Saturday night celebration of a friend's birthday in the District.
He reassured his father that he would be safe and that the group would be coming home on a reserved shuttle bus.
"I told him be careful, and the last thing he said, 'don't worry about it, we rent the bus, we don't drive it'," recalls Federico Hernandez.
Virginia State Police say around 3:30 am, the bus was traveling on the Interstate when it was cut off in the right lane by a speeding Acura -- driven by 31-year-old Raphael Barrientos of Dumfries.
"The shuttle bus swerved to the right to avoid making contact with that Acura, swerved to the right and ran off the right shoulder, went through the guardrail, and actually ended up overturning," says State Police Spokeswoman Corinne Geller.
The Acura sped off without stopping, police say.
Left behind was a terrible scene: all 17 people inside the bus were injured, including the driver, and nine people were ejected from the vehicle altogether.
Two riders, one of them Sanchez, were airlifted to Inova Fairfax Hospital. Sanchez later died from his injuries.
"We found out this morning," Federico Hernandez says. "He's a great kid. It's a great loss."
Investigators say they found the Acura after running a license plate number called in by other drivers.
By 9 a.m. Sunday morning, Barrientos was taken into custody, held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, and faces a felony hit-and-run charge. After being released from jail on bond on Monday, no one answered the door at the Barrientos home.
"I just hope he gets what he deserves," says cousin Miguel Sanchez, who assures the family will move forward – just as David would have wanted:
"We're struggling, but there's nothing the Sanchez family can't overcome."
According to the arrest warrant, an investigator noted Barrientos of “having the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person,” and that he, "…admitted to driving and said he was involved in a motor vehicle crash…"
Family members of Sanchez say they want to know what happened, but for now, they're taking the time to remember the son and brother they nicknamed 'Scrappy', because of his many activities: a soccer star at Hylton High School, a straight 'A' student with honors, equally comfortable with computers and mechanical work on cars.
The spot where David died now has a standing memorial dedicated to his life – particularly, his love of sports, fixing cars, and reflections of the love he gave to others.
"He taught me a lot of things in life," says Gerardo Hernandez, Sanchez's 16-year old brother. "How to be a good person. He was always a good person. Just sad he had to go how he went."
No one expected this.
"I'm just trying to prepare myself and my kids," Ester Hernandez says. "I'm going to miss him a lot."