“It didn’t need to happen,” said Erika Bautista’s younger sister, Janeth Hernandez. “It’s something that could have been avoided, and we just want justice.”
Hernandez said on September 25, the 30-year-old Bautista was on her way to Hernandez’s house to pick up centerpieces for Hernandez’s wedding the next day when her car was struck.
Police said Christopher Montpetit, of Shirley, was driving drunk when he slammed into Bautista’s car, which had become disabled on the side of County Route 83 in Farmingville.
Bautista, of Coram, spent two weeks on life support at the hospital. She died on October 11.
“We had faith,” Hernandez said. “We thought she was going to make it.”
Bautista’s three young daughters were also in the car.
“Her daughters were her life,” Hernandez said. “She was always with them. Everywhere she went, she always had her daughters with her.”
Ten-year-old Ruby and 8-year-old Lizbeth suffered minor injuries, while 4-year-old Melissa is still hospitalized with injuries to her brain.
“She isn’t aware of what’s going on,” Hernandez said. “She’ll open her eye and she’ll have like hand movements, but she’s not like functioning the proper way.”
Prosecutors charged Montpetit, a realtor, with misdemeanor DWI, but they are expected to upgrade the charges against him next month.
Montpetit’s attorney said the incident was an accident, and that Montpetit’s prayers go out to Bautista’s family.
“I don’t think it was an accident,” Hernandez said. “It’s something that could have been avoided.”
Hernandez said her family believes Bautista is in heaven because she was an avid churchgoer.
“She was always helping at the church too,” she said. “She loved to praise God.”
Hernandez said Bautista always listened to religious music while driving.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Bautista family pay medical bills for Melissa Bautista.
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