SAN ANTONIO — A family is grieving the loss of an 8-year-old girl who was killed in a DWI crash. It happened three days before Christmas.
Thursday evening, loved ones held a roadside vigil. Candles lit tearful faces as purple balloons dotted the sky. Dozens of people gathered to honor Nicole ‘Marae’ Vidales.
“She was a beautiful soul, a beautiful angel,” said Marta Macias, Marae’s great-aunt. “She loved to dance. Something was ripped from our hearts, and there’s no way we could ever get it back.”
On December 22, Marae’s life was cut short.
According to police, she was in the back seat of an SUV that was heading south on General McMullen Drive.
The driver reportedly hit a curb and lost control. Authorities say the SUV hit a fire hydrant and parked vehicle before crashing into a utility pole near Commerce Street.
Marae died on scene. Family members say Marae's sister, mother and grandmother were also in the vehicle. They were all taken to the hospital.
“It was the hardest Christmas ever,” said Macias. “We were in the hospital in ICU just trying to cope and make sense of all this.”
Marae’s mother is the suspected driver. Authorities say she was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
“I’m not mad at the mother because it really was an accident,” said Macias. “I know she is taking it very hard and my heart pours out to her as well.”
According to Macias, Marae’s father is incarcerated. She is working to get him released early so at least one parent can attend the funeral.
“It would be a compassionate release," said Macias. "I have reached out to elected officials. He also has stage four cancer and I am trying to get him home. It has been done, so I am not taking 'no' for an answer.”
DWI’s typically increase during the holidays. Macias has a desperate message.
“Don’t drink and drive,” she said. “Get a taxi, call a friend, because look at what happened.”
Macias says Marae’s sister is out of the hospital and staying with relatives.
The suspected driver, 34-year-old Nicole Ovalle, has been charged with 'Intoxication Manslaughter.' A new charge of 'Aggravated Assault With a Deadly Weapon' was added on Thursday. Ovalle is being held on a $100,000 bond.