Whether playing basketball, participating in church activities or delivering turkey dinners to the homeless on Thanksgiving, Leslie Balderrama loved being a part of the small mountain community of Tehachapi.
The athletic, vivacious 14-year-old impacted the lives of many in the close-knit town, friends and family said.
Those friends and family are now left wondering what else Balderrama could have accomplished if she hadn't been struck and killed by a drunken driver, her body left by the side of the road.
The driver, Isaac Macias, was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison. He pleaded no contest last month to DUI manslaughter without gross negligence.
Ibrahim Gomes, the sole passenger in the pickup Macias was driving, received 180 days in jail after pleading no contest to hit and run causing death or permanent serious injury.
Before sentencing, Balderrama's father told the court he wakes up in disbelief every morning with the realization he will never speak to his daughter again.
"Your poor lack of judgment has affected so many lives in the worst possibly way," Ricardo Balderrama told the defendants. "This probably weighs heavy in your heart, and you will have to carry this burden for the rest of your life."
Sighing heavily between sentences, Ricardo Balderrama described fishing trips the family took where a 6-year-old Leslie Balderrama caught her limit of fish before anyone else. She became bored waiting for everyone else and scooped up handfuls of rocks that she threw into the lake to scare the fish.
Ricardo Balderrama said his daughter, like him, was a bargain hunter who scoured stores for the best deals. A fashion nut, she compiled an array of beauty products and clothing, even giving her older sister advice on what to wear and what polish to use on her nails.
One of his proudest moments as a father was when Leslie Balderrama was baptized at Valley Bible Fellowship on Father's Day a few years ago, Ricardo Balderrama said. He has faith he'll be reunited with her in heaven.
"I pray to God that He plants a seed in your heart so you may understand forgiveness and know why I must forgive you so I will be able to see my daughter again," Ricardo Balderrama said.
Before imposing sentence, Judge Michael G. Bush noted a number of cases involving fatal drunken driving crashes have come before him, and still others will soon be in his court.
The judge said he wishes every time someone took a drink and had car keys in their pocket they would feel the pain of the families of those killed by drunken drivers.
"You two have made terrible choices, and you'll pay for it," Bush told the defendants.
Macias struck and killed Leslie Balderrama on Oct. 10, 2015, as she walked along Highway 202 west of Sage Lane.
Macias told investigators the next day that he had been drinking and hit someone but didn't remember much about it, court documents said.
Gomes told investigators he got out of the vehicle and stood over Balderrama.
"She didn't look like she got that messed up, " the documents said he told investigators.
Gomes got back in the truck and the two drove to Macias' residence. They didn't call 911 or notify law enforcement about the crash, the documents said.
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Macias and Gomes on behalf of Leslie Balderrama's parents. Also listed as defendants in the suit are Exelon Generation Company LLC and First Solar Inc., who employed Macias at the time of the crash and entrusted him with the pickup he was driving that day.
Attorney Daniel Rodriguez, representing Ricardo Balderrama, said a trial is set for Aug. 17. Leslie Balderrama's mother, Evelyn Denise Natividad, is represented by attorneys with Chain Cohn Stiles.