“They know it was an accident,” Obdulia Sanchez's attorney says, "but they have lost two daughters now, that’s very hard to deal with"

By KC Baker
August 24, 2017 03:16 PM
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As Obdulia Sanchez sits in jail in connection with a July wreck that left her younger sister dead — an incident she live-streamed — her family grieves the loss of two children, the teen’s defense attorney tells PEOPLE.

“The family, they are supporting Obdulia,” says her court-appointed lawyer, Ramnik Samrao.

“They know it was an accident,” he says. “But they have lost two daughters now, that’s very hard to deal with. They just want her to come home.”

Sanchez, 18, is accused of drunkenly crashing her car into a field near Los Banos, California, on July 21, killing her 14-year-old sister, Jacqueline Sanchez, and seriously injuring Jacqueline’s friend — all while filming what happened on her phone and broadcasting it on social media.

Authorities have said Sanchez lost control of her vehicle, ejecting both of her passengers, who were not wearing seat belts, and that she was allegedly driving under the influence at the time. Samrao says he has hired an expert as well to investigate possible causes of the crash.

Obdulia’s live video captures the moments leading up to the crash and its immediate aftermath, as well as the swirl of violence and screams as her car went off the road.

Jacqueline Sanchez
GoFundMe

At her arraignment on July 23, Obdulia pleaded not guilty to the multiple felonies against her.

Her charges include one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, an alternative count of gross vehicular manslaughter, two counts of driving under the influence resulting in injury and two counts of driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent causing injury, with great bodily injury allegations for all four vehicle code violations, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE.

Obdulia faces a maximum sentence of 13 years and eight months in prison if convicted on all charges, authorities say. Court and jail records show she remains in custody in Merced County, California, on $560,000 bail.

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Her attorney says she is still in the stages of grief. “Some days might seem a little better than others, but she breaks down and cries almost every time I go and meet with her and go over footage related to her sister’s death,” Samrao says.

“She feels absolutely horrible about what happened,” he says. “She will always be responsible for killing her sister. She will always be dealing with that.”

In a story published Friday, Obdulia spoke out for the first time since the wreck in a phone interview from jail with local TV station KGPE.

Samrao says he didn’t know about the interview and is upset that station never reached out to him about it.

“She [Obdulia] did it on her own,” he says. “I would have liked the courtesy to have known about it.”

Obdulia Sanchez
Merced County Sheriff

In the interview, Obdulia also spoke about the live video she recorded for social media while driving that fateful day. “I didn’t even know I looked like a monster — like I look like a freaking horrible monster,” she said. “That was not my intention at all.”

Before her car careened off the road, through a fence and into a field, Obdulia said, “We were perfectly freaking fine. Then next thing I know, we started going left. We started going left, then I started to stop the car. Then we flipped over.”

“And then I look in the back seat and there’s nobody in the back seat, and that’s when I started freaking out,” she recalled.

When Obdulia saw her sister lying in the field, “I knew she was dead,” she told KGPE. “I took her pulse and she had no pulse.”

Sanchez continued to live stream the aftermath of the crash, even showing herself kneeling by her sister’s body.

Describing her sister as her best friend, Obdulia said, “She’s like my mini-me. She looked just like me. Any time I look at her, it’s like I’m looking at myself. It makes me really sad that she’s gone.”

“My parents are grieving,” she said. “They want me back home. The house is super lonely without us. We were like the joy of the house.”