Family of girl killed in crash say they forgive suspect

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Zayda Monge, 9, of Oakland died on the way home from bible study at her church. Her family is struggling to make sense of their loss.

"Well, it's been one week and a day today. It hasn't been easy. We miss our baby," said her father Carlos Monge.

Zayda was a fourth-grader at Redwood Christian School in Castro Valley. Loved ones described her as charismatic and always smiling.

"We've been trying to be on our feet, just by God giving us strength," her father said. 

The crash last week also injured two of Zayda's friends, who are sisters ages 8 and 10.

"I'm so sad for Zayda and her family, but I thank God because i have my two kids here," said the girls' mother Rita Navarrete of Oakland.

The wreck happened as a woman driving the girls tried to make a U-turn to head south on 35th Avenue near Paxton Avenue in Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood. An Infiniti suv traveling south on 35th slammed into the victims' Toyota. The driver and four other occupants ran away on foot.

The suspect, 21-year-old Kevin Lee Payne Jr. Turned himself in to Oakland police two days after the crash. Authorities say he wrote a note of confession and apology.

"It's two different kind of feelings," Monge said. "I feel bad that he destroyed his life. I feel good he's off the streets."

 Alameda County prosecutors have charged him with vehicular manslaughter, hit and run and reckless driving. Police say that before the crash, witnesses saw him passing another car by going into oncoming traffic at high speed.

Court records show that Payne has previous convictions for burglary, possession of an assault weapon and receiving stolen property. Payne is due in court Monday to enter a plea. 

Zayda's family says although they wants justice, they've already forgiven the suspect

"That's what God teaches," Monge said. "He teaches us to forgive."

 

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