Mom died in crash day before birthday

The Emmett woman, who was carpooling to Boise for work when her vehicle hit a horse, is survived by six daughters.

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comMarch 5, 2014 

Alma Sanchez celebrates her 43rd birthday last March 4. Two of her daughters still lived with her.

PROVIDED BY SANCHEZ FAMILY

Alma Sanchez’s family and friends expected this week to be a celebration. The Emmett woman would have turned 44 on Tuesday, and her friends at work had planned a party.

But Sanchez was killed early Monday in a car crash on Idaho Highway 16 near Firebird Raceway, just north of Eagle. Two passengers were hospitalized.

The three were headed to work at Mountain View Packaging off Federal Way in Southeast Boise. They were on the road before 5 a.m. to make their 6 a.m. shift.

The Boise business closed for the day soon after news of the fatal accident reached employees.

“When the word was passed around and people started crying, we decided to shut down and let people do their grieving,” said Gary Shaw, chief administrative officer. “We sent them home.”

The business, which packages frozen food and meals, has 45 employees.

“They get very close to each other, working day by day on the packaging line,” Shaw said.

Sanchez had worked there since August 2012.

Shaw said he heard that one of the two women hospitalized in the Monday crash had been released; he was unsure about the status of the other woman.

HORSES ON HIGHWAY

The Ada County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the crash, did not release the name of the injured women. As of Tuesday, it also had not shared who was boarding two horses — including the one that died in the crash when it collided with Sanchez’s car — that escaped due to a broken fence panel.

The horse that was loose on the highway was in an area not designated as free range, and prosecutors will review the incident for possible charges. Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Roger Bourne said Tuesday that he had not received a report on the crash and did not know the material facts, so he declined to comment on possible charges.

According to Ada County code, owners of domesticated animals found running at large may be fined $25 for a first-time violation, $50 for a second violation and $100 for any subsequent violations.

The crash occurred near milepost 106 — within a mile of where the horses escaped, said sheriff’s spokesman Patrick Orr. Numerous properties in that area have large pastures with horses.

Sanchez and her co-workers were traveling in a 1997 Honda Accord. The speed limit on that stretch of Idaho 16 is 65 mph.

The impact of striking the horse sent the car across the oncoming traffic lane, down an embankment, into a field and then into a rock wall. A Dodge Neon that struck the horse soon after flipped onto its top; the driver was able to get out with the help of a passer-by.

Reports of horses, livestock and other animals loose on area roads and property are not uncommon.

Early Tuesday morning, Idaho State Police dispatched troopers to check on a report of horses loose on Idaho 55 near the Long Branch Saloon in Horseshoe Bend. A friend of the owners of the horses called emergency dispatch just before 3:30 a.m. to report that he was trying to wrangle them.

“By the time they got up there, there was nobody there,” an ISP dispatcher said Tuesday morning.

Boise County Sheriff Ben Roeber said his office gets four to six calls a month about livestock in the road. That occurs primarily on Idaho 55 and Idaho 52, he said.

All of Boise County except Horseshoe Bend is open range, Roeber said.

“We usually try and locate the owner when we know who it is to remove them, if available. If not, we try to get them back inside the fence or off of the roadway as much as we can,” he said.

‘FAMILY-ORIENTED’

There’s no easy way to tease “loose animals on highway” reports from Ada County’s data, Orr said. The agency lumps together reports of loose, dead and injured animals (which might or might not be on the road) and its information doesn’t include reports inside incorporated cities.

Ada sheriff’s officials responded to 723 reports of loose/dead/injured animals in 2013.

Sanchez, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, lived in the Emmett area most of her adult life, said her sister-in-law, Dana Diaz. She is survived by six daughters, ages 15 to 30, including two who still lived with her.

“She was very family-oriented. A lot of her spare time she was at home with her girls. Her girls were pretty involved in sports,” Diaz said of Sanchez, who was fond of garage sales and taking trips to see her parents in Portland.

She was the seventh of her parents’ 10 children.

Diaz found out about the fatal crash soon after it happened. School had not started.

“A police officer brought her two daughters to my door,” she said.

Diaz said two of Sanchez’s daughters were flying in from Texas; the others live in the Treasure Valley.

Katy Moeller: 377-6413

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