Family: Teen's Phone Use Didn't Cause Fatal Crash

Family members of Noemi Mendez said she wasn't on her phone when she stepped into the intersection

A teenager who police say walked into the path of a big rig at a busy intersection south of San Diego was crossing with the signal in a crosswalk when she was killed, her family said Friday.

The mother of Noemi Mendez say reports that the teen was distracted by the phone when she started crossing the street are untrue.  In fact, she says the 15-year-old's phone rang while she was in the intersection.

Noemi died instantly when she lost her balance and fell behind the rear wheels of a semi-truck at Otay Mesa Road and La Media Road.

Elias Mendez said he has had trouble sleeping and hasn't been able to eat since he witnessed his sister's death Wednesday in Otay Mesa, an industrial area just north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Elias and his mother, Viviana Castro, were grief-stricken when they spoke to NBC 7 Friday about the Castle Park High School student who was always happy and loved to joke around.

Elias, who has been traumatized since the night of the accident, said he was walking side by side with his sister in the crosswalk around 5 p.m. Wednesday when he tried to pull her out of the path of the oncoming truck.

He said the crossing light was flashing, allowing them time to make it across the street.

That's when police said Noemi fell under the rear wheels of the truck.

"I turned around towards her and I was yelling at her like 'Wake up, c'mon. Don't do this, just wake up,'" Elias remembered.

Investigators said Noemi was distracted by her cell phone when she walked into the intersection and that the truck driver turned right on a green light. Witnesses told police the teen attempted to cross the street against the light.

However, Castro said Noemi was not on the phone until it rang while she was in the street. Elias Mendez said the truck should have yielded to them.

The truck driver told police he didn’t realize the teen had been hit until he heard a disturbing noise at the back of his vehicle. He stopped the truck and jumped out of the vehicle, officers said.

San Diego police officers told NBC 7 the truck driver was not charged in the collision.

Noemi's classmates at Castle Park High School in Chula Vista wore black or white in her honor Friday.

A viewing is scheduled for Saturday at Aztlan Mortuary in La Mesa. The family is accepting donations to help cover the services. Any donations can be sent in Noemi’s name to 7856 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa, CA 91942 or call (619) 337-8100.

Contact Us