“I didn’t see it coming,” Tarissa Cardoso said of the car that came out of nowhere after midnight as she and Blake Barry, a longtime Oakdale buddy, walked away from a large and rowdy party Dec. 29.
He yelled at her to move, she said, and shoved her in the back. And then he was gone.
The zooming car clipped her wrist, nearly severing a hand that, after two surgeries, seems fine except for a long scar. The impact spun her in a circle, she fell and people came to her aid. Through the shock, she saw the crumpled heap that was her friend, the young man she had known much of her life and with whom she had spent a memorable day in San Francisco before heading to the party on E Street in Waterford.
She later learned that the car had destroyed Barry’s femur and sent him flying into a parked vehicle, crushing his skull. He died shortly after at an Oakdale hospital.
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And – whether it was intentional, somehow related to gunshots fired moments earlier or purely accidental – whoever was driving that car is still out there.
Several dozen of Barry’s friends and loved ones gathered Sunday on the six-month anniversary of his death, to plant a tree in his memory, to share some memories, to sell t-shirts and sweatshirts to augment a $10,000 reward, and to implore someone to come forward to fill in the blanks.
“We can’t just say, ‘Hey, someone ran over and killed him,’ ” Barry’s “Grandad,” George Olmos, told the crowd. “We want to shake the bush. Someone knows something.”
Greg Buck, a detective with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, said there isn’t much more to investigate without new information. His unit thinks the zooming car was a dark 2007-09 Nissan Altima. Authorities questioned a 20-year-old Waterford man upon locating him after a previous plea to the public, but Buck said no persons of interest remain. Although no one was shot that night, Buck would not say how or whether the gunshots might have been linked to Barry’s death.
Homeowners just feet from the homicide offered to let Barry’s survivors plant a tree in their yard. “They wanted to do something classy,” said his sister, Laura Bovée.
His mother, Juanita Bovée, studied a list of trees approved by City Hall and chose the rosebud family because it’s expected to flower in the season her son was killed. “It will always bloom,” she said, “and he’ll be here.”
One by one, family and friends dropped shovelfuls of dirt into a hole where the tree had been placed moments before. Among them were Arika Smith, 21, who lived with Barry for a year. They were engaged at one point, but ended it only a few weeks before he was killed.
“He’s always going to be in my heart,” she said.
Chris Bales, Cardoso’s mother, struggled with tears as she took her turn at the shovel. She whispered, “Thank you for saving my baby.”