Maria Two-Hatchett wondered if she would feel a sense of relief, a sense of justice, when an arrest was made in connection with the two-vehicle collision that killed her oldest daughter, Feodora, last summer.
But when news of the arrest arrived Monday, she found herself awash in grief instead.
“Actually, it’s made me more depressed,” Two-Hatchett said during a tear-filled phone conversation from her home in Ponca City, Okla. “It’s brought all the sadness and grief back to the surface.”
Raudel Sandoval Jr., 19, was charged in Sedgwick County District Court on Tuesday with second-degree reckless murder in Feodora’s death. He is being held in Sedgwick County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond, and his preliminary hearing set for Feb. 12.
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He plans to hire an attorney, presiding criminal Judge Warren Wilbert said.
A complaint filed with the court Friday indicates the killing was reckless but unintentional and involved “extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
“I feel bad for his family, because now they have to deal with his absence,” Two-Hatchett said of Sandoval. “It’s something I’ve been trying to sort out.”
A financial affidavit filed with the court shows Sandoval is an employee of a local fast-food restaurant and lives with his parents and a sister. He was arrested Monday afternoon at his home address, according to a jail booking report.
Lt. Joe Schroeder said Sandoval was traveling west on Mount Vernon “at a high rate of speed” when his red Acura collided with Two-Hatchett’s Ford Fusion as she was driving north on Edgemoor toward her home in the area shortly before 8:20 p.m. on June 26.
Feodora, 6, was riding in her child safety seat on the passenger side of the Fusion in the back seat, police have said, and that’s where the Acura hit the Fusion. She died at the scene despite intensive efforts to save her.
Evidence indicates Two-Hatchett performed a “rolling stop” through the stop sign at Mount Vernon on Edgemoor, Schroeder said, but she was not issued a traffic citation in the incident.
At the time of the collision, witnesses estimated Sandoval’s Acura was traveling 60 to 70 mph in an area where the speed limit is 35.
“There are all kinds of factors in this case,” Schroeder said. “Speed is a predominant factor.”
It’s not uncommon for months to pass before charges are filed in cases such as this, Schroeder said.
“With the amount of (accident) reconstruction that had to be done, and manpower restrictions as they are,” such delays are not unusual, he said.
“We don’t want to rush decisions on cases like this,” Schroeder said. “We want to make sure we’ve covered all the bases.”
Maria Two-Hatchett and her younger daughter, Michea, were both injured in the collision. Sandoval was not injured.
Two-Hatchett suffered a shoulder injury that required several weeks of physical therapy.
“It was just painful and grueling, but it was an easier way to deal with my grief” by doing the physical therapy, she said.
Michea, who was 15 months old at the time of the crash, was riding in a child safety seat on the driver’s side of the back seat.
“She came through fine,” her mother said. “She has a really, really bad scar on her left shoulder from her seat belt. It burned her, we were hit so hard.”
She’ll carry that scar the rest of her life.
“She’ll remember she got it in that accident,” Two-Hatchett said.
Two-Hatchett moved with her surviving daughter to Ponca City a few months after the accident. Feodora is buried about five minutes away in Tonkawa.
“I just wanted to be closer to her,” Two-Hatchett said. “It does make me feel better to know she’s right there. I can go see her at any moment.”
Michea will turn 2 in March, and as she grows she resembles “Fe,” her older sister, more and more.
“They like the same things, they act the same way,” Two-Hatchett said. “She looks at me just perfect and looks just like Fe.”
Michea misses her big sister. Two-Hatchett posted a photo on her Facebook page in early November of Michea, who had fallen asleep while clutching a photo of her big sister.
Michea enjoys trips to the cemetery to visit her sister, Two-Hatchett said.
“She starts waving and calling her name,” she said of Michea. “She starts kicking her little legs. And then she goes and stands by her grave and waves to her.”
As heart-wrenching as those moments are, Two-Hatchett said, she is glad Michea still values her sister so much.
Her family’s Native American tradition calls for a year of mourning when a family member dies. There are no photos of Feodora on display. There will be no ceremonial dancing in tribal regalia at powwows – which Feodora loved – for a year.
“It’s hard, but we have to respect our ways,” Two-Hatchett said.
There are times she is convinced she can still see and hear Feodora, as if she’s run into the room for a moment and then back outside to play with her friends.
“I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and it’s all a bad dream,” Two-Hatchett said, “and it’s not.”
Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker of The Eagle