Family of teen killed in hit-and-run in hopes of making changes to road safety

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The hit-and-run death of Ema Cardenas has numbed 16-year-old Nayelli Sandoval. In a few moments, she not only lost her best friend, but her younger sister who was looking forward to turning 15 this Saturday, May 7. “We were like peanut butter and jelly,” Nayelli said with a laugh. She added, “She was just always there. I go in my car and that was his seat. It’s still exactly as she left it. Her pencils are literally right there on the side of the door.

On April 28, Ema was walking home from Des Moines East High School when she was struck in the 1600 block of East University Avenue by a fleeing vehicle. Terra Flipping, 38, was arrested the following day. Ema died of her injuries in hospital. Now the crash scene has become a memorial. Nayelli is a junior at East High School and was just two blocks from track practice when her sister was hit. Nayelli hopes city leaders will discuss the possibility of changing the district’s school zones. The crash site is just half a mile from East High School, but its speed limit is 35 miles per hour. Less than two weeks before Ema was hit by a car, two teenagers were hit by a vehicle on Southwest Ninth Street just minutes after school ended at Lincoln High School. “The speed limits in school zones aren’t even that far off. There are students living down there and I feel like the school zones should be expanded and further away. There should be speed bumps,” Nayelli said.

The family of Ema Cardenas will hold a public visitation Thursday at the Hamilton Funeral Home from 3-7 p.m. A private funeral service at Calvary Apostolic Church on Friday.

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