Ema Cardenas from Iowa was unexpectedly killed in a hit-and-run crash on April 2, just days before her 15th birthday.
An Iowa teen was tragically killed in a hit-and-run case just days before her 15th birthday and quinceañera celebration.
Ema Cardenas, 14, was walking home from Des Moines East High School around 3:45 p.m. on Thursday when she was struck by a vehicle. 38-year-old Terra Jean Flipping was driving the SUV when she allegedly slammed into the teenager. The teen died of her injuries at a local hospital, according to the Associated Press.
"We are still looking for a few more witnesses on this because we don't have a real clear picture as of why the 14-year-old girl was in the roadway," Des Moines Police Department Sgt. Paul Parizek told PEOPLE. "She had just got out of school 4 blocks away."
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of @DsmEast High freshman Ema Cardenas, who died yesterday afternoon in a hit-and-run accident in the 1600 block of East University Ave. Ema has been with us since kindergarten and will be deeply missed by her friends and teachers. pic.twitter.com/UNBs6voYfh— DM Public Schools (@DMschools) April 29, 2022
Latina girls, look forward to quinceañera—a rite of passage symbolizing a girl's entrance into womanhood—planning for years with their families.
Cardenas was excited to celebrate her upcoming birthday and was waiting to wear her beautiful gown sewn with love by her mother. It is heartwrenching to know that Ema’s quinceañera dress ended up being used as her burial shroud instead. “She was so excited. Emerald green and gold, which are her favorite colors,” grieving mom Anna Campos told TV station KCCI. “Now I have to tell those family members that instead of giving invitations to her party, I have to give invitations to her funeral.”
"I want to forgive her. I just want answers. Like, how can she... what was her state of mind leaving somebody just there on the side of the road?" the devastated mother questioned.
Young Girl Killed in Hit-and-Run Days Before Quinceañera To Be Buried in Quince Dress https://t.co/PoLF8GItFW— CafeMom (@cafemom) May 6, 2022
The young girl's death has affected all those close to her. Ema's English teacher, Rebecca Sanchez, told the Des Moines Register that Ema showed her pictures of her quinceañera gown earlier that day. "That girl, her face lit up with excitement," Sanchez said. "She was really excited to have this coming into womanhood moment. ... She would always talk about how her mom and dad were going all out for this moment. She appreciated her parents and everything they were doing for her." She added that Ema was "so much fun" and "so loving." "Her spirit, she just brightened up a room. I've never seen that girl frown. She would come into my classroom full of smiles. … She was friends with everyone, that was my favorite part of her."
Iowa Girl, 14, Who Was Excited to Celebrate Quinceañera Is Killed in Hit-and-Run Days Prior https://t.co/cSVGQc4IUT— Gina Lawriw (@GinaLawriw) May 4, 2022
"To know Ema, was to love Ema. She was always smiling, and had a sweet, bubbly disposition, and many said she had the best laugh," the teen's obituary reads.
A private funeral was held on May 6th. The family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Calvary Apostolic Church's Children/Youth Camp Scholarship Fund. "You are missed already, sweet one. Simply loved, forever," they added.
Cover Image Source: Des Moines Register Obituary