My Sister

by Scott Daniel
Julie was my sister and only sibling. It’s difficult to describe what its like to grow up with a sibling and then find yourself an only child. There are things that only a sibling understands. They were there with you when it happened and understand you in ways that no one else, including your wife, children and friends cannot. When Julie died, my connection to the rest of the world broke just a little bit.
And just as Julie understood me, I knew her in ways that other’s didn’t. This isn’t to say that she shared all her secrets with me. There are many things I learned about her life after her death. It is more a of a feeling about the world that comes from a shared experience early in our lives. It’s a look shared when we heard a bit of family news or a smile or a frown at just the right moment.
Julie was where with me in the back seat of our VW travelling across the US from Minnesota to start our lives in California. She was there when we opened presents on Christmas and ended up playing with the packing boxes instead of the presents. When I was 15 and she was 13, she was there when my mother measured us and she equaled me in height. She was there when my parents split up and a few years later when our parents remarried.
Julie struggled with the world in way that only a few of us understood. She raged and stomped at injustice in any form whether it was perpetrated against her or anyone else. As a young person, a good deal of her anger was misdirected and she suffered for it. Some of us, particularly our parents, suffered with her. Her life did not proceed in a straight line. But in the years before her death she found the love of her life, found a career, and found happiness. She seemed to find peace.
My cousin’s “adopted” me just after Julie’s death. They are son’s of my mother’s identical twin so we are more than just a little related. They have been my brothers now for almost as long as Julie was my sister. It isn’t a replacement for Julie, but we are creating a new set of shared memories, good and bad like all good siblings, that help connect me to the world.

Death and Trial

The accident that killed Julie occurred at 1:50a on Monday, September 3rd, 1990. Her car, driven by her fiance Kevin, was struck from behind by a drunk driver which caused their car to lose control and hit a tree in a ravine on the 22 Freeway in Garden Grove, CA. Neither Julie nor Kevin were wearing seat belts. The driver that caused the accident attempted to flee the scene but was stopped by Brian Simurda who witnessed the accident and intercepted the drunk driver on an off-ramp. Kevin died at the scene of the accident. Julie never regained consciousness and died four days later at UCI Medical Center in Irvine.
Below is the LA times article published the day after the accident, before Julie died.
LA Times Article
Alberto Ochoa, the driver that killed Julie and Kevin, was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter. He received the maximum sentence. The judge indicated that he received more letters on behalf of Julie and Kevin than he had received for any case before. A representative from MADD was present at all of the trial hearings and was instrumental in supporing the families through the trial process.
A number of the members of the Ochoa family offered apologies to our families for Julie and Kevin’s deaths.
The case of People vs Alberto Ochoa was appealed successfully and then overturned (the trial case was upheld) by the California Supreme Court. At issue was the admission of the evidence of Ochoa’s previous conviction for drunk driving which was used by the court to demonstrate prior knowledge of the consequences of drunk driving to show gross negligence.
You can read details about the case, including details about the accident, from the records of the California Supreme Court from the links below.
People vs Ochoa on Stanford Law 
People vs Ochoa on


Welcome to the Julie Daniel Memorial Web Site. This web site is dedicated to Julie Ann Daniel who died September 7, 1990 as a result of a traffic accident involving a drunk driver. Her fiance Kevin died September 4, 1990 at the scene of the accident.
The purpose of this web site is to let people know about Julie’s short and vibrant life and to provide information regarding the academic scholarship in her name.