One year after fatal DUI crash, victim’s family remains mad, shocked

Shirley Van Why (right)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – On August 10, 2016, Shirley Van Why was sitting in traffic on I-40 East near 98th Street when a car slammed into the back of her. Van Why died on scene.

“You just stop and everything just stops around you and you don’t realize your whole world has basically collapsed right there in front of you,” said Beau Van Why, Shirley’s only child.

The woman that police say hit and killed Van Why is Cynthia Silva. Police say she was high on meth at the time of the accident and that they found meth in her jacket pocket.

“You can understand a normal traffic accident. You know, somebody made an error of judgment, but when it’s something as severe as it was and knowing the lady was high on meth it infuriated me. I was just emotionally so mad, and mad at almost the whole world, ” said Van Why.

Van Why says his mother was extremely against drugs and that she’d be “rolling over, furious” in her grave if she knew “a person like this” is who killed her.

“She wouldn’t tolerate a drug abuser, she wouldn’t tolerate an alcoholic she wouldn’t tolerate drinking and driving,” said Van Why.

In the past year, Silva’s case hasn’t progressed much and Van Why’s family isn’t happy about that.

“It’s basically telling us, well, you guys don’t matter, this case isn’t that important. Even though she did something so horrific to the community and to a family,” said Van Why.

At Silva’s initial appearance in August 2016, a judge cited a number of outstanding charges to keep Silva behind bars.

“There’s 23 bench warrants, 16 failure to appears, that’s concerning to me as well as out of county warrants,” the judge said.

She set Silva’s bond at $150,000 cash or surety.

However, the District Attorney’s office told KRQE News 13 that Silva was released on her own recognizance in May 2017. She is being monitored by the Pretrial Services Division.

“It’s horrible to know that she’s out walking around. It’s infuriating. Me and my family can’t stand the fact that we know she is out walking around,” said Van Why.

The DA’s office also told KRQE News 13 that if this case goes to trial, it will not be until summer 2018.

“I mean, really? Another year? That’s not fair. Where’s the justice system in that?” said Van Why.

Van Why’s family says everyday of the past year has been hard.

“We never took it for granted when she was alive because we always enjoyed being around her. She was always the life of the party and always made you smile,” said Van Why.

They’re trying to focus on the good memories but they can’t help but think that this whole tragedy could’ve been prevented.

“If she was behind bars from her first incident or anything else then we could’ve prevented this whole accident from happening, period,” said Van Why.

Van Why is remembered as a successful business owner, a caring friend, a loving mother and a devoted wife. She was married to her high school sweetheart, Ron, for 36 years. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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