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Daughter Killed In DUI Crash, Mayes County Mom Hopes To Raise Awareness

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Kendra Gonzalez was killed by a suspected drunk driver in April on Highway 20 in Mayes County, just three months before her birthday. Kendra Gonzalez was killed by a suspected drunk driver in April on Highway 20 in Mayes County, just three months before her birthday.
Troopers said Derlin Lara was driving the wrong way on Highway 20 when he slammed into Kendra's car head-on. Troopers said Derlin Lara was driving the wrong way on Highway 20 when he slammed into Kendra's car head-on.
Lara has pleaded not guilty to the charges he's facing. Lara has pleaded not guilty to the charges he's facing.
MAYES COUNTY, Oklahoma -

A Mayes County mother recently celebrated her daughter's 21st birthday at the cemetery.

Kendra Gonzalez was killed by a suspected drunk driver in April on Highway 20 in Mayes County, just three months before her birthday.

She is the second young person killed the same way, in the same place; and Kendra's mother, Brenda Branson, said enough is enough.

Kendra's family said whenever they heard singing, they knew she was about to walk in the door and make them laugh.

She loved dressing, taking selfies and was strong willed enough to speak her mind.

She graduated from Pryor in 2013, became a certified nursing assistant and worked two jobs - one was taking care of veterans at the Claremore Vet Center, and she'd just signed up for nursing school.

"She had a big heart, she really did. I always told her, ‘you care too much,’" Branson said.

On April 25th, troopers said Derlin Lara was driving the wrong way on Highway 20 when he slammed into Kendra's car head-on.

4/26/2015 Related Story: OHP: Chouteau Woman Killed In Wreck With DUI Driver

They said his eyes were red and glassy; his speech slurred and told them, he'd had "mucho cervezas."

They said he had an open beer and bottle of tequila in the car, no driver's license and was in the country illegally from Honduras.

"Why did this have to happen? She was so good and could've done so much for this world," Kendra’s mother said.

Branson wants people to realize what a terrible problem drinking and driving is, and how easy it is for all of us to step in and stop those we see who have had too much, before another life is taken, and another mother’s heart is shattered.

"Before we ended any conversation, I'd say, ‘Love you bunches,’ and she'd say, ‘I love you more.’ I keep wanting to hear, ‘I love you more,’ and it doesn't come," Branson said.

She wants to organize a walk in Mayes County in honor of all those affected by drunk driving to raise awareness, and hopes the community will rally with her so they can, somehow, put an end to the deadly choice.

Lara has pleaded not guilty to the charges he's facing. A judge will decide in November if there's enough evidence against him to make him stand trial.

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