Calif. Teen Speaks Out About Girlfriend Killed in Crash That Was Allegedly Live-Streamed
Fourteen-year-old Manuela Seja survived a car crash that claimed the life of her girlfriend, Jacqueline Sanchez, but says she doesn’t blame the driver
The sun was still shining in California early Friday evening when Manuela Seja and her girlfriend, Jacqueline Sanchez, sat side-by-side in the backseat of a 2003 Buick as Obdulia Sanchez, Jacqueline’s big sister, drove the young couple back to her family’s house in Stockton — just before their lives were torn apart.
As Seja later described to local TV station KGO and other outlets, she and Jacqueline had met seven months earlier.
“She wasn’t like everybody else,” Seja told the station. “She was just funny and she would be funny. She didn’t even need to try.”
Jacqueline had promised they would see each other every weekend, Seja said — so Obdulia, 18, made the two-and-a-half hour drive from Stockton to Fresno, California, to pick Seja up and bring her back to the Sanchez house that fateful Friday.
It was about 6:40 p.m. as Obdulia was driving on the highway in Los Banos, California, about an hour northwest of Fresno, when she somehow lost control of the car, authorities say. The exact cause of the wreck remains unclear, though footage soon surfaced online allegedly showing Obdulia from before it happened, live-streaming video of herself from the driver’s seat.
PEOPLE was not immediately able to confirm the authenticity of footage, but it appears to show Obdulia driving down the highway, rapping along to a song, before careening off the road as screams are heard in the background.
When her Buick veered onto the shoulder, Obdulia overcorrected and swerved back across the road, according to a report from the California Highway Patrol. She blew through a barbed wire fence into a field and flipped over, ejecting her two passengers, who weren’t wearing seat belts.
Seja tried to flag down passing cars to help as Obdulia allegedly resumed filming — capturing the violent aftermath of the crash — according to the footage that was posted online.
It seems to show her next to Jacqueline’s bloodied body, yelling into the camera, “I f—— killed my sister, okay. I know I’m going to jail for life alright. I understand that. This is the last thing I wanted to happen.”
At one point the footage appears to show Obdulia telling her sister, “Jacqueline, please wake up.”
Her relatives confirmed that she had recorded the video, according to local station KFSN.
“Investigators are aware of the possibility of video evidence on social media,” the highway patrol’s report states. “Investigators are looking into the validity of these reports and will provide updates as they become available.”
Seja escaped from the crash with cuts to her legs, but Jacqueline was pronounced dead shortly after the wreck.
Authorities are still investigating whether Obdulia called 911.
“I never thought this would happen,” Seja told KFSN.
Another Video Shows Obdulia Driving Dangerously?
Obdulia was arrested after the crash and is being held at the Merced County Jail in California on $300,000 bond on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing injury and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
It is unclear whether she has retained an attorney or if she has entered a plea to her charges.
Authorities are in the process of determining the 18-year-old’s exact level of intoxication at the time of the wreck, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol tells PEOPLE. (Neither the Sanchez family nor Seja could be reached for comment.)
Mary Hernandez, who said she recorded Obdulia’s alleged live-stream of the crash, told BuzzFeed News that Obdulia posted another video from before the crash showing her swerving toward an oncoming car that pulled out in front of her.
A young girl sits in the passenger seat as shown in that video. It is unclear whether the passenger is Jacqueline.
‘I Don’t Blame Anybody’
Though she is still grieving her girlfriend’s death, Manuela said she isn’t angry with Obdulia.
“Honestly, I’m not mad at anybody and I don’t blame anybody,” she told local TV station KSEE.
“It’s all affected by social media. That’s what life is now,” Seja said. “And it’s going to advance more and more. That what it’s going to be about.”
She told KFSN she will cherish a box of notes and photos of her relationship with Jacqueline:
“I’m glad because it shows how much she cared about me.”