Brandon Jay Faris, 20, was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and careless and reckless driving.
Police say Faris was speeding on Morganton Road from Bonanza Drive when he lost control of his Honda Civic and crashed into a Volkswagen Passat.
That car was driven by Olivia DeJesus Cardona, 50, who had her 6-year-old daughter, also named Olivia, in the back passenger seat. Cardona died of her injuries at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.
Eyewitnesses said the little girl told them she and her mother had just left church. Amber Romero said Faris narrowly missed hitting her and her husband as they headed home from dinner that night.
The couple made a U-turn to assist Cardona. Little Olivia's passenger door flew open at impact, and then she unbuckled herself and walked across the street to a sidewalk, her father said.
That's where Romero said she held the little girl in her lap while emergency personnel tried to save her mother.
"She told me that she just came home from church," Romero cried. "I told her 'Pray. Just pray,' and she sat there and just prayed in my lap."
Romero said she's been worried about the child since the accident, and she's angered by what she witnessed.
"Since he (Faris) is a soldier, they have safety briefs for stupidity like this every Friday," she said. "Trust me, my husband's military. I know. Safety briefs tell them don't race, don't do something stupid, don't put your life in danger....and I guess he didn't take those safety briefs seriously like he needed to."
Authorities said there was no evidence that Faris was actually racing, but they do believe he revved his engine to try and race another driver who would not participate with him.
A 'Wonderful Mother'
Back at Cardona's Fayetteville home, her father, children and ex-husband gathered in mourning Thursday.
"She was a wonderful mother," cried Thomas Cardona, the victim's ex-husband.
In addition to 6-year-old Olivia, the Cardonas also have a 17-year-old son named Thomas, who is set to graduate from Cross Creek Early College later this month. The victim also has a 27-year-old son, Oreleo Manduley Leon, who joined the family from Massachusetts.
Olivia made a home video with her siblings saying she plans to put her mom's Mother's Day gift wherever she is buried.
"I really miss my Mommy, and I can't see her," Olivia cried. "But I know she's in Heaven."
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