Two lives cut short, Shandi Botel and Natalia Casiano
Child was just learning to crawl and say 'Dada’
Shandi Boetel lay in her casket and held her baby, Natalia, in her arms one last time while a few dozen friends and family came to pay their respects Sunday morning.
Members of Boetel’s family traveled from Denver and Ohio for the visitation Sunday morning at Callahan-Edfast Mortuary in Grand Junction.
Twenty-one-year-old Boetel and 6-month-old Natalia Casiano died Feb. 28 in a pickup driven by Boetel’s common-law husband and Natalia’s father, Luis Casiano, when it was struck by a Honda Civic driven by Derrick Maxfield, 20, of Parachute.
Casiano remains at St. Mary’s Hospital in serious condition.
According to Boetel’s family members, Casiano’s mother was scheduled to arrive Sunday from Mexico. She had not seen her son in seven years.
Boetel’s aunt, Sandra DeLeon, and cousin Ashley Hutchinson, 17, were in Grand Junction the weekend of the accident to visit Boetel.
“We were here knocking on her door Saturday morning, called her all that day and called her Sunday morning before we went back to Denver. We didn’t expect this; nobody does,” DeLeon said.
DeLeon heard the news Sunday afternoon after she had driven back to Denver.
She expressed anger towards Maxfield; she said he may not be old enough to legally drink, but he should know not to get behind the wheel.
“He’s old enough to know not to do it.”
Boetel’s family said Casiano has not been told about the deaths of Boetel and his daughter.
They expect Casiano to be distraught, especially when he hears about his baby.
For Hispanic fathers, “their girls are like gold to them,” said Lora Ramos, a relative of Boetel’s.
DeLeon said that Natalia was Casiano’s life, and that he was a great father.
“I just don’t know how this is going to toll on him. This baby was his life. He is gonna need all the support he can get,” DeLeon said.
She said Natalia was always smiling, a very happy baby.
“She was chunky but she was a happy baby. Just so cute,” DeLeon said.
She was just learning to crawl and say “Dada.”
DeLeon said Boetel and Casiano had planned to wed, maybe move to Denver. Boetel was raised in Denver and she missed her family.
DeLeon helped raise Boetel when she lived with her grandmother, Brenda Hutchinson, in Denver.
“She wanted to grow up like her Aunt Sandy,” Hutchinson said.
DeLeon said Boetel used to follow her around saying she wanted to be just like her.
“Sometimes it would drive me nuts, but now I’m proud. I’m glad she used to say that,” DeLeon said.
Hutchinson, who traveled from Ohio to be at the viewing, remembers Boetel “just like a normal kid.” She never got to meet her great-granddaughter, Natalia.
DeLeon said Boetel had a rough life, but she was trying to turn it around. Her outlet was through her poetry.
“(Her poems) were just amazing, from one mood to the next, that’s how she expressed herself. Through her writing,” Ramos said.
Ashley Hutchinson said Casiano is artistic as well; he loves to draw. He made a T-shirt with Natalia’s footprints and a sketch of Winnie the Pooh at the hospital when Natalia was born.
“Luis and Shandi were happy. That baby just made her life complete. That was her family, the family she chose to have,” DeLeon said.