The family of an Edmonton teen killed in Mexico last month is still coming to grips with her death.
Fernanda Salinas-Sanchez, 16, was from Mexico City and immigrated to Canada eight years ago. Her family returns to Mexico City every summer to visit family.
On July 25, Fernanda, her aunt and some cousins were in a van heading to Acapulco when the back tire of the vehicle exploded. The driver lost control, and Fernanda and her aunt were killed.
“My feelings [are] like a roller coaster,” Fernanda’s father, Marco Salinas, said.
He was in Edmonton when he got the news and said it was difficult to process.
“At the beginning, I couldn’t believe that was true. As a parent, you’re never prepared to receive this kind of news,” he said.
“My feeling was something in my heart died. Children are part of your life and it’s pretty hard to lose a [child] at that age.”
Salinas, his wife, Fernanda and her older brother Marco Jr moved to Edmonton for the chance at a different life.
“Basically looking for better options, better opportunity of life for our children,” Salinas said, adding the family wanted to move away from a city where drug cartels and kidnappings are commonplace.
Salinas said Fernanda took a while to adjust to life in Canada but soon blossomed.
The 16-year-old recently received a certificate for honours with distinction at Ross Sheppard High School and aspired to become a doctor.
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“One of her dreams was to be a doctor that works in war countries helping people,” Salinas said.
Fernanda also flourished at sports. Salinas said his daughter started playing basketball when she was nine years old and continued playing through high school. She competed in the Alberta Summer Games in 2014.
“I thought it was probably not fair. She was only a young girl with a lot of dreams and many things just to complete, to do,” Salinas said.
Brother Marco Jr. Salinas-Sanchez, 19, said Fernanda was one of his best friends.
“The family baby, the youngest one. She was an amazing person. I knew I could trust her with anything,” he said.
Marco Jr. was set to join the family a few days after the accident.
“I think if I had left with them, if it had not been for my job, I probably would have been on that van as well,” he said.
“It was just something like a freak accident – one in a million chances of happening. If it happened like that, that’s what was meant to be.”
Marco Jr. said it took some time for him to realize what happened was real but said it can sometimes be difficult to remember that.
“I’ll be watching TV, I’ll be on my phone looking at Facebook, I’ll see something funny or a video she would have liked and I think, ‘Oh I’ll share this’ but I remember she can’t see it anymore,” he said.
“Sometimes I’ll be playing with my dog or walking my dog and think, ‘Oh he’s doing something funny, I’m going to tell her,’ but she’s not there anymore.”
The family said they are leaning on their faith during this difficult time.
“I feel that Fernanda is always with us. She will always be with us,” Salinas said.
“I still talk to her. I still pray to her. When I watch TV, I’ll be like, ‘Fernanda, you would have liked this, I hope you know I’m remembering you when I see this.’”
The family is holding a prayer service Friday night and a funeral service Saturday morning at St. Herman’s Orthodox Church.
“With a beautiful smile and always kindness and always willing to help and always willing to support other people, we are very proud of our daughter,” Salinas said.