Family Mourns 12-Year-Old Girl Killed in Car Accident

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STOCKTON --

A Lathrop family is in mourning, after a 12-year-old girl was killed in a car crash in Stockton.

Police told FOX40 the girl's father is to blame, and that he was drunk driving at the time of the wreck.

The accident happened Friday night around 10 p.m., on California Street near 9th Street in Stockton.

The family of 12-year-old Jo'Kiesa Ziegler paid their respects to the spot where Stockton police said she lost her life, placing candles and a picture of the girl at the tree her father crashed into.

"She was a good kid, she was a good kid. She had friends," Shelia Levy, Jo'Kiesa's great aunt told FOX40 through tears.

Her family said Jo'Kiesa attended Mossdale Elementary in Lathrop, where she was in 6th grade and that she loved to dance.

"I know she (also) liked to play ball. She liked to swim," said Eddie Levy, Jo'Kiesa's step grandfather.

"She would be comical. She would dance and she would do little things and say this is what my daddy did," Shelia Levy told FOX40.

According to Stockton Police Jo'Kiesa was riding without a seatbelt in the back seat of her parents' 2001 Ford Explorer Friday night.

Officers believe her father, who the family tells us is Joe Ziegler, was speeding when he got to a turn on California Street and the SUV left the road.

"It collided with a tree, and the 12-year-old daughter who was in the back seat was ejected from the vehicle, probably because she was not wearing her seatbelt," said officer Joe Silva, spokesperson for the Stockton Police Department.

Silva said Jo'Kiesa did not survive the crash but Ziegler is expected to survive and is currently at a local area hospital listed in critical condition.

Investigators suspect Ziegler had been drinking, and Silva said officers had found evidence of alcohol inside the vehicle when they responded to the scene.

"The father is being guarded at a hospital by a Stockton Police officer because he faces multiple felony charges," Silva told FOX40.

But Shelia Levy and other family members said they aren't placing any blame until they know the circumstances themselves, and so far they have not been able to speak with Ziegler.

Meanwhile Jo'Kiesa's mother, Rocheka Thomas, was also in the car at the time of the crash and has since been released from the hospital, according to Silva.

Her family said she's taking the loss very hard.

"Oh she's in bad shape. She cried all night long," Eddie Levy told FOX40.

Ziegler's mother told FOX40 she knows her son has a drinking problem.

According to Silva, he will face charges of driving under the influence causing death.

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