A tragic car accident east of Modesto resulted in the sudden death of six-year-old Denair Elementary Charter Academy kindergartner Elliana Davila, and the arrest of her mother and Turlock resident Angelica Castellanos-Davila on charges of driving under the influence.
“She was just an absolute doll, such a sweet, sweet little girl that we’re just devastated to lose,” said DECA Principal Sara Michelena. “Her teacher is absolutely devastated and the class is too. It’s just sad—there’s really no other word for it.”
Michelena said that the school will provide information regarding funeral arrangements on the school’s website when they become available.
“I spoke to the family today and told them that we wanted to respect their wishes. We are waiting to hear from them,” said Michelena.
Castellanos-Davila was heading south on Albers Road near Milnes Road with Elliana at approximately 4:30 a.m. Sunday when her car lost control, went off the pavement and hit a power pole. Elliana was ejected from the car and pronounced dead at the scene. California Highway Patrol investigators said that she was in a car seat that had either been unbuckled or improperly secured.
Castellanos-Davila was taken to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto with non-life threatening injuries. Upon her release, she was arrested and booked into Stanislaus County Jail, where she has been charged with DUI causing great bodily injury, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and child endangerment. Her bail is set at $100,000.
Grief counselors will be made available on campus for students and staff, and there will be a meeting this week to provide tips to parents as they help their children cope. Over the next few weeks, the school will assess the need for further support services to students, including bereavement support groups. DUSD Superintendent Aaron Rosander said that the school’s priority is to make sure everyone knows that there are resources available.
“I’ve heard over and over that she was a sweet little girl,” said Rosander. “All of the students and adults that work there are just heartbroken and will miss her terribly.”
A gofundme page was set up on Sunday to pay for funeral expenses for Elliana. As of 4:30 p.m. on Monday, $4,690—more than a third of the way towards the $12,000 goal—had been raised by over 60 people. The page has already been shared over 1,200 times.
“She was always smiling, she loved to have fun and loved her family,” wrote Sonia, who identified herself on the gofundme page as Davila’s aunt. “[She] was in a terrible car accident and was taken from us too soon. We are devastated and cannot even begin to realize our lives without her.”
The gofundme account link to help pay for Elliana’s funeral arrangements can be found at: www.gofundme.com/sr9gru6k.