Basketball buddies play to remember their friend

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Father, husband, brother and an avid basketball player – that’s how family and friends remember Daniel Sanchez.

Sanchez, 51, was killed Saturday when another vehicle slammed into his motorcycle. The suspected driver of the car, Jacob Williams, 27, is accused of driving drunk. Sanchez’s 11-year-old daughter, Magen, was seriously injured in the crash.

Every Thursday, Sanchez played with a group of friends at UNM. This week, his buddies played one man down, remembering their friend.

“This was an alternate family for Daniel,” Paul Ingles said. “I mean, he was totally devoted to his own family, but he rarely missed a game.”

He rarely missed the basket, too.

“He just shot lights out, awesome,” Jeremy Yang said.

Sanchez knew the game.

“He was the best pure shooter out here,” Yang said, who played with Sanchez for the past few years.

On Thursday, that shot and presence wasn’t on the court.

“You can’t really believe it’s somebody that you spend 90 minutes a week with, twice a week, is not going to show up the next time,” Ingles said.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Sanchez, a father of three and an electrician at UNM, met up with some co-workers at the Johnson Center to play ball.

“He was very competitive and raised everybody’s game up.” Ingles said.

Those games have a different feeling now.

“I’ve played with Daniel for several years and there just is a hollowness,” Yang said. “He was just a fantastic basketball player and a great guy and a lot of fun to be around.”

These guys say when Sanchez wasn’t putting up big numbers, he was telling them all about life back home.

“And then talking about his family, he talked about his kids a lot,” Ingles said.

Sanchez will never be able to take the court again, but his friends say his memory lives on. They’re now wearing black wristbands to remember him.

And it’s through those wristbands, along with a mix of tears and laughter, that these friends say will help them heal.

“We just want to keep playing and thinking about him,” Ingles said. “Keep him in our hearts and minds. That’s all we can do.”

“We’ll miss him so much,” Yang said.

Before their game, the guys gathered in a circle, spoke out and shared memories of Sanchez. Many plan on attending his funeral.

What’s next for Williams

Jacob Williams faced a judge for the first time Thursday since allegedly getting behind the wheel drunk and slamming Sanchez on his motorcycle and seriously injuring Sanchez’s daughter.

On his way into court, Williams didn’t say much.

Williams is facing a charge of vehicular homicide, one count of great bodily injury by vehicle and one count of aggravated DWI. Breath tests show his breath alcohol level was more than .16, twice the legal limit

Police say Williams crossed the center line of Highway 109 near Jarales, hitting Sanchez and his daughter.

In court, the judge set Williams’ bond at $500,000 cash-only.

The family of Williams’ first victim, Quin Sanchez, were in court Thursday. Quiz Sanchez was killed by Williams while he was driving drunk in 2006.

“We are so sorry they have to go through this at this point. We thought this would end first time,” said Felicia Nieto, Quin Sanchez’s sister. “We thought laws take care of this. We are sorry for that. At this point, we will do whatever we need to change that so it doesn’t happen to anyone else again. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a serial killer.”

Williams was sentenced to six years in prison for Quin Sanchez’s death. Not only was Quin Sanchez killed, his passenger, Mary Ann Madrid, was paralyzed.

As for the surviving victim of this crash, 11-year-old Magen, she suffered a broken leg.

Community members have set up an account for her benefit at State Employees Credit Union.

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