Family of 14-year-old girl killed in Balboa Peninsula crash touts DUI reforms

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

By PAUL ANDERSON/City News Service

Moments before his 14-year-old daughter was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver, her father had one of those feelings of concern that parents get out of the blue.

“I’d always want her to check in with me and to stay in touch, and it’s funny how we feel things, but right around 6:45 p.m. I sent her a message that I felt worried, how are you? Are you OK? And I didn’t hear back until a couple of hours later,” Fillmore Smiley said.

His daughter — Rosenda Elizabeth Smiley of Rialto — had been struck last Saturday, May 25 by a car driven by Joseph Alcazar, 30, of Fontana, who has since been charged with second-degree murder. The time of the collision at Balboa Boulevard and Palm Street was about 6:45 p.m.

As he was awaiting further news about what would happen next after being alerted to the collision, Smiley said his daughter’s Snapchat response popped up in his phone with cruel irony.

“I thought for a moment she was alive,” Smiley said.

She was about to graduate eighth grade and go on to high school, her father said.

Smiley, a clinical therapist who helps addicts, said he does not want his daughter to be just another statistic. So he and his family will gather at the scene of the crash Saturday, June 1, to tout reform for impaired drivers.

“So I work with addicts and alcoholics every day,” Smiley said. “Anyone can get one DUI and anyone can have an oops and they’ll never do it again, but when you get the second DUI, you’re an alcoholic.”

Alcazar had been twice busted for driving drunk, which is why he is facing murder instead of manslaughter charges. The difference between the two is a life sentence versus a set time behind bars.

“I’m going to talk a little about Rose and also advocate for changes in the law,” Smiley said.

He believes that getting treatment to impaired drivers upfront will do a better job cutting down on recidivism and the deadly DUIs than a tough prison sentence will.

With a first or second DUI, drivers should be ordered to undergo a year of outpatient treatment and mandatory attendance at 12-step meetings, Smiley said.

“I also think there should be mandatory jail time for first-time offenders,” he said. “I think first-time offenders get off easy. They don’t take it seriously enough. And forced treatment works.”

By the third DUI, “there should be prison time. If you get to a third, you don’t get it,” Smiley said.

“We want people to know who Rose was and we don’t want her to be a statistic,” Smiley said. “We want people to understand what an amazing, vibrant, feisty, witty, intelligent, beautiful person she was. Every parent thinks their child was special, but Rose was truly special. My girlfriend was like, ‘I never met anyone like Rose.’ “

Rose had artistic and musical talent her father wanted to nurture.

“She liked art a lot,” he said. “For a while we had her doing piano lessons, but that changed over the pandemic and she never went back into it again.”

Instead, she told her parents, she was more interested in hanging out with her friends, her father said.

“Rose is much more of a social butterfly,” he said. “We had a house full of kids a lot.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.