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'Such a cliche': Sister of woman killed in drunk driving crash brings awareness

Posted at 10:46 PM, Jan 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-05 06:15:52-05

NAPLES, Fla. — The family of a Naples woman hit and killed by an accused drunk driver on New Year's Eve is working to bring her body back home — and to bring awareness to the harsh reality of drunk driving.

"It feels like such a cliche," Tricia Pernu, the victim's sister, told Fox 4.

Tricia tells Fox 4 she got a call 15 minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve that her sister had been killed in a hit-and-run crash by a drunk driver who fled the scene.

That night, Florida Highway Patrol also reported the crash which they say happened at 8:30 p.m. on December 31. According to troopers, the driver of a Kia Rio hit a bicyclist who was riding across the travel lanes of U.S. 41 and took off. Tricia said that bicyclist was her sister, on her way to get food at a nearby restaurant.

"I found out about 15 minutes before midnight," Tricia Pernu said. "It's been rough."

FHP confirmed the suspect, Claudio Andres Nunez Hormanzabal, was under the influence at the time of the crash. He attempted to flee that night but was later located and arrested by the Collier County Sheriff's Office.

Nunez Hormanzabal faces several charges, including DUI Manslaughter and Reckless Driving.

Since 2021, state data has shown an increase not only in crashes in Southwest Florida, but in deaths as well. According to the data, there were 225 people killed in traffic crashes in 2021. Last year that number increased to 242 deaths, with 43 pedestrians killed, 17 bicyclists killed, and 16 killed in hit-and-runs.

"It's hard to imagine that I don't get to spend the rest of my life with my big sister," Tricia said through tears.

One of the many challenges now being faced by Mandy's family — figuring out how to bring her body back home to Minnesota, where her 18-year-old son lives. To help cover some of the expenses for Mandy's funeral, Tricia started a GoFundMe page.

"No family expects to have to deal with this," she said. "This isn't something that you save up for."

Even through all of these challenges, Tricia wants to use her experience as a reminder for others to never drink and drive.

"It could be your loved one," Tricia said. "Pay attention to what you're doing. Put your phone down, don't get behind the wheel, pay for an Uber, make the phone calls. Do what you have to do."