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Setting the Record Straight on My Father's Death

Milpitas resident Nell Redaniel writes about the news coverage surrounding the death of her father, Vedasto Redaniel, in the Santa Ynez River during the winter holidays.

Just to set things straight, I mean no disrespect to any writers or newspapers, but I had to write something in response to what I read about my dad and what occurred .

Vedasto Redaniel is survived by three daughters—me, Nell Redaniel, 23; Vanessa Redaniel, 18; and Kristen Redaniel, 15.

Don’t you think it is common courtesy to notify the family that you are writing an article that they may or may not read and that this article will portray their father as a careless, reckless man? It should indeed be common courtesy to get your facts before writing said article.

In response to several articles: Thank you for getting only half the facts. Yes, my family was evicted on Sept. 21, and yes, my dad was arrested on Oct. 13 and then again on Oct. 14 for returning to our house. But then you took it one step further and described in an insensitive manner the last time my dad was seen alive. 

Here is the full story: My mother, Cynthia Redaniel, died June 2005, because she had breast cancer. My dad tried his best to take over, caring for us three girls. I graduated high school and went off to college; my dad helped me pay for my college expenses.

I spent about two years away from home before I decided I should come back and be close to home, this when I slowly started finding out that my dad was having trouble paying for the house. He never told my sisters and me that he was having trouble, but when the situation went from bad to worse, my dad and I would fight. He would tell me, “You deal with your problems, and I’ll deal with mine.” 

My dad bounced from job to job, because he worked as an assembler for electronic and medical companies and would get laid off. My dad was probably unemployed for the last two-three years before we finally lost the house. 

I tried to help him the best I could. I helped him try to qualify for a loan modification, which the bank turned down, because of his joblessness. I tried to talk him into selling the house and moving to an apartment, but he kept telling me, “I have lived here all my life; I have paid this house for 30 something years; this is the American dream; this house will be for you girls …”

In the end, to have lost the house the way we did is a complete tragedy and a great example of how our current economy and law enforcement/judicial system have failed a struggling family.

I remember that within the last year, my dad was hospitalized for his pre-existing heart condition, and they told him that his Medi-Cal was not valid. He was in the hospital for a month or so. I went over to the social services office and reapplied for his Medi-Cal benefits and tried to get emergency aid, food stamps, etc. We didn’t qualify for food stamps! How is that possible when were already in danger of losing the house, and there was never a lot of food in the house? Another example of how the system failed a struggling family.

When I heard that my dad had been arrested for being at the house after we were evicted, I went to the police to talk to them, because he had gotten arrested twice. I told them that he would just keep going back, because I believed he was mentally ill, and I went to them to see if he could be transported to a mental facility or somewhere where he could get help. But they told me that based on their evaluation that they do when they first interacted with him, there was nothing that they really could do, because he was not a danger to himself or others.

He was in jail for a month. I sent a medical information form to the facility that he was at, but I found out when he got out that they did not give him any medical attention. He said he complained about his gout but never got any treatment or remedy while in jail. He didn’t get any medication, and he should have been taking medication every day and night for a variety of conditions he had. So what did me sending in that form do? Nothing.

Before his trial, to release my dad, my aunt spoke with the public defender on his case; we were trying for a second time to have him be sent to a medical facility. The public defender told us to get his medical file. We went to his psychiatrist, and their offices told us we had to have his permission, and there was a waiting list, and all these hoops to jump through. Why wouldn’t anyone help us?

In the end, my dad got out of jail on Nov. 15 and stayed with us in Milpitas at my cousin's house for five days. On the fifth day, he left on a drive and never came back home. 

On Nov. 21, I received a call from the that my dad was stopped for speeding, but he drove away. That was the last time a person saw him alive. I had waited a few days before filing a missing persons report, because I had hopes that he would just come back on his own. He didn’t. So I filed a missing persons report in late November.

I don’t remember when I got the call from Santa Barbara, but I was told that his car had been towed for blocking a road in Solvang near Santa Barbara. I was so surprised that his car was all the way down there, considering all our family is up here in the Bay Area, so I don’t really know what my dad was thinking about when he started driving down that way.

The next major phone call I got was on . I had missed the call, so the person left a voicemail to call back. When I called back, I got the voicemail—it was the Santa Barbara Coroners Office. They called me back and asked lots of questions about my dad and his physical description, etc., but didn’t say anything else.

So my family and I celebrated Christmas without my dad and tried to have a good time.

A few days later, a woman from the Santa Clara Coroners Office came knocking on the door and delivered bad news to me. Now, what you have to know about me is I didn’t cry, nor will I cry anytime soon over my dad’s death, because I am dealing with this news that same way I did with my mom’s death. I keep it inside, I let it simmer, and then slowly, after some time, I let steam escape. 

Unfortunately, my youngest sister was in the living room while I was at the front door, and she heard everything. By the time I had finished talking to the woman, she was an emotional mess. That was the saddest I have ever seen Kristen. But I couldn’t do anything for her, because I was dealing with the news in my own way, as well. Luckily, my other sister, Vanessa, wasn’t home, because I knew she would have taken it worse. But now I had to deliver the news to her.

When she got home from work that day, I had her sit down and I told her. She was crying and asking, “Why? Why?” and “I want my daddy.” Seeing her so sad almost made me cry, but I didn’t.

What did we three ever do to lose both parents and the house we grew up in? I ask myself that every day since I found out.

Now here I am, a 23-year-old college student, trying to figure out guardianship of my youngest sister, trying to find a permanent place to live and trying to get help from social services. I am hoping that I will have better luck receiving the help I need than when I tried to get help for my dad.

I wrote this article to share a little bit of the inside story behind what may seem like the careless, reckless, driver/criminal my dad was portrayed to be. I also wrote this article, because I would like to say to all the journalists out there who reported on this: Please, next time, go to the family before printing your story. The articles you wrote were really upsetting for the family reading them.

Lastly, I wrote this article, because I want everyone to know that when a struggling family asks for help, you should do everything you can to help.

May my dad, Vedasto Taay Redaniel, rest in peace. At least now he is in a better place and has been reunited with my mom.

Nell Redaniel lives in Milpitas.

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