Family, friends mourn Sarah Root's death

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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) -- It's been a tough week for those closest to Sarah Root.

One day after graduating with a 4.0 from Bellevue University, Root's truck was hit by a drunk driver. She later died at the hospital.

Family told WOWT 6 News the 21-year-old was full of life and ready to take on the world when her life was taken too soon.

"We're doing the best we can for her...she loved a lot, and we'll do the best we can for her," said Lyndsey Johnson, Root's cousin.

“She brought joy to everyone and everybody will remember here. She was a great person, and I don't think you'll find one person that disliked her."

Johnson was one of nearly 100 people who gathered at Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs Sunday night. It was cold, it was windy, and the Super Bowl was on but everyone felt like it was important to pay there respects. Johnson said it's their way of reminding everyone in the community that no one is going to forget about her cousin.

"It's really hard knowing that I won't see her again," said Johnson. "She was a great person."

Scott Root, Sarah's dad, was the only family member that felt up to speaking in front of the large crowd on Sunday night. Before Root's high school friend played a song on her acoustic guitar, Scott Root stood before the crowd and thanked everyone for showing his family so much love and support since the accident that claimed his daughter's life.

Root called his daughter beautiful and reminded everyone that he will always carry her in his heart, but made it clear that he wants to see justice.

"We would like to draw attention, however, to the fact that we laid her to rest yesterday, and the cost of a bond cost less than a funeral," said Scott.

Prosecutors tell WOWT 6 News that Eswin Mejia, 19, was drunk and street racing another vehicle when his pickup slammed into the back of Sarah’s SUV that had stopped near 33rd and L Street on January 31.

Police say Mejia's blood alcohol content was .241 which is three times the legal limit to drive.

Root's mother told WOWT 6 News that Mejia bonded out of jail on Friday. Court records aren't available to show whether Mejia bonded out, but a worker at the Douglas County jail said that Mejia is no longer listed as an inmate.

Whether he's bonded out or been transferred to another jail can't be confirmed at this time, but the family isn't convinced that their daughter is getting the justice that they're seeking. Root's mother noted that Mejia's bond was set at $50,000. Court records show that Mejia skipped a court date in 2014 in relation to a traffic violation -- he only went to court when he was charged with a second offense in 2015 and was subsequently taken into custody.

As for Mejia, his lawyer didn't want to comment on specifics when WOWT 6 News asked about his client's blood alcohol level.

On Thursday Thomas Niklitschek say, "I don't want to get into that too much, there is still some evidence that needs to come forth. So at this point I don't want to dodge your question, but it's a little bit too early to know the specific. The BAC was over the legal limit, but again... I don't want to get too much into what hasn't occurred yet as far as evidence."

As for the Root family, they're holding onto hope that the second person that was involved in the crash is found. Police have not yet found whoever Mejia was believed to be racing at the time of the crash.

On Sunday night they asked that anyone who knows something step forward.

At the same time, they attempted to remember the good times they had with Root before she was taken from them. Johnson noted that the crowd was larger than expected.

"These people loved her," said Johnson. "She brought joy to everyone. Everybody will remember here. She was a great person, and I don't think you'll find one person that disliked her."