The tragic events over the weekend has left one family devastated and shocked. 11 News spoke to Sara Hernandez, who says she's Boetel's adopted sister. Hernandez wanted to share memories and send a stern message about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Sara Hernandez says it's been a difficult and unbearable week, coming to terms with the tragic deaths of her younger sister and baby niece.
"Right now, most of the family is still in shock," said Hernandez. "They really can't believe it's true, and I think everybody feels that way right now."
She says nobody deserves what happened early Saturday morning, but especially not Shandi.
"She was just the type of person who was friends with everybody," said Hernandez. "She really didn't have any enemies. She was just outgoing, bubbly, and she loved life."
As friends and family lay candles, flowers, and cards at the intersection of North Avenue and 5th Street, Hernandez says they try to reflect on the happy times. But in the back of their minds is a 20-year-old man who made one bad decision.
"Everybody wants to know what he was thinking at that time," said Hernandez. "Why he would think about doing that knowing he could put other people's lives in jeopardy."
She hopes her family's pain resonates deeply with anyone who might think about getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking.
"I just hope that this gets a lot of people's attention," said Hernandez. "Anybody's attention as to what can happen when you're drinking and driving."
Now, Hernandez has to bury her sister and niece -- their husband and father Luis Casiano still in the hospital in serious condition.
"He's doing better and everybody is hoping and praying he gets better as every day passes," said Hernandez.
But one thing that won't get better as each day passes, she says, is the hole this tragedy has left in her heart.
"She was always happy, always had a smile on her face," said Hernandez.
A fund has been set up to help the Boetel and Casiano families with funeral costs. If you would like to help you can make donations to the Shandi Boetel and Natalia Casiano Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo Bank.
Whiskey River, where Boetel was an employee, is also collecting cash, check, and credit card donations for the family all week. The bar will hold two big fundraisers for the family Friday March 6 and Sunday March 8.
Boetel's family tells 11 News they will hold a memorial at Callahan Edfast, then take Shandi and Natalia's bodies back to Denver where they will be laid to rest.
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