Family of Yuma-based Marine forgives DUI driver who caused his death
YUMA, AZ - "He was breathing, yes. And then I think he lost his life in the ambulance."
Talita Conceicao recounts the last moments of her brother, Pedro's life. She says the military is sending his body home to Virginia from California.
Pedro's dad, Silvio Conceicao, says the family has compassion for 21-year-old Ashley Maya, who was the driver behind the wheel of his son's fatality. Pedro and Ashley worked as aviation supply specialists at MCAS Yuma.
"I don't want to crucify her. I think she needs to learn from her mistake, but it's hard because my son is already dead," says Silvio. "And she's very [much] alive, you know. She ruined her future...just because she was drunk. I think her parents are suffering too. I think she's hurt enough."
The Conceicao family prays for Maya and her family. The Conceicaos say their faith in God and the prayers of others have helped tremendously.
"Anyone having to deal with [this] the rest of their lives...killing, you know...for lack of a better word, your best friend...that must be so awful," says Talita. "I just don't want her to think that we hate her because we don't."
"I don't know how she can handle this because she's in a lot of pain right now because she killed her best friend," says Silvio.
Talita says Maya's Facebook page was taken down so they can't reach out to her. Yet, despite their own pain, the Conceicao family wants to comfort her.
"We don't want her to go to jail forever. We understand what happened, but if we can forgive her, California should be able to too," says Talita, hoping that the California courts will offer Maya some leniency.
Silvio remembers something Pedro said to him before he died: words that comfort him to this day.
"He told me, 'Daddy, I'm with Jesus. I can die in Afghanistan, I can die here, but God is with me. He saved me over there. He protected over there and here,'" recalls Silvio. "And that's the reason why we are not so sad with this.
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