'Happy, independent': Relatives remember mom killed in crash with 14-year-old driver

HOUSTON – The family of a 45-year-old woman who was killed in a crash Tuesday after authorities say an underage driver failed to stop at a red light is telling KPRC2 their relative was a "happy," "independent" single mother. 

"She raised us alone,” Jessica Gaspar, Silvia Zavala's 20-year-old daughter, said.

Gaspar said her mother was a hard worker and a mother of two. Gaspar has a 22-year-old brother.

“She was a single mother, and she always taught me to stay strong and stay positive," Gaspar said.

A 14-year-old driver has been charged with murder

Silvia Zavala
Silvia Zavala

Deputies said the teen driver ran a red light going at least 60 mph and hit Zavala's truck. Zavala was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.

The teen driver and a passenger in the GMC were taken to LBJ Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, officials said. A third teen was not injured.

Silvia Zavala
Silvia Zavala

When Gaspar got to the scene, she said her heart dropped.

"When I got close to the truck, I saw bags, and I remembered she had those bags in there, so I knew it was her," Gaspar said.

Deputies told her the driver took his father's truck without permission and drove around illegally, throwing eggs at cars. When a car starting chasing after the teens, deputies said, the teens ran a red light, hitting Zavala.

Silvia Zavala
Silvia Zavala

"I feel bad. I really do, but he took my mother's life, and he has to pay for what he did," Gaspar said.

Right now, Zavala’s family is gathering to remember their loved one. 

"Everyone's on the way from the valley,” Gaspar said. “We're, like, six hours away, but everyone is on the way.”

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