KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Family members of a mother of six are speaking out after a woman has been arrested and charged with her death, six months after the fatal collision.
Court records state 26-year-old Deanna Holleran, who admitted to smoking methamphetamine before getting behind the wheel, slammed into a Chevrolet Tahoe carrying Mariana Hernandez-Gonzales, her husband, and their six kids.
The mom was thrown through the windshield and died in the street, near 9th and Hardesty. Police say Holleran and her passengers were exchanging gunfire with another vehicle just before the crash.
FOX 4 sat down with Hernandez-Gonzales' mother and her children to talk about Holleran's arrest. Flowers, candles and other mementos made up a new memorial where Hernandez-Gonzales died, this time for her birthday. In February, she would've turned 31 years old.
Six months later, just bringing up her name still prompts tears. Mariana Hernandez-Gonzales and her husband had six kids, who now spend most of the time with Marian's mother Thomasa. Thomasa spoke with FOX 4, through the translations of a family friend named Myra. In Thomasa's words, Myra said, "She said at the beginning Dayan wasn't speaking at all, but now that he's here with her, he's been talking more."
Two weeks back, the family had a birthday party for the mother. "A pinata for the kids, a cake for them; rice, mole, all the things she liked." Thomasa keeps pictures of her daughter on the wall so the children remember their mother. "They get on the couch and give kisses to the picture."
Myra said this has been hard on the aging woman, who is now basically raising her grandchildren, along with their father who pulls 12-hour days at work.
"She's been going through a lot. She tries, she does garage selling so she can make money for the kids. He comes and brings the kids to her. Sometimes he takes them to school, sometimes they take them," she said.
News of Deanna Holleran's arrest brings some peace, though there are still a lot of unanswered questions as Holleran's first court appearance approaches. Myra said of Thomasa, "Now she feels relief because now it's the right person."
While the family hopes for justice, they'll continue to focus on honoring Mariana and raising six young kids robbed of their mother. Myra said, "I think if Mariana was here, her choice is that they'd be with her family."
Holleran is facing several charges including murder in the second degree and leaving the scene of an accident. Her first court hearing is scheduled March 17.