PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros said she has two regrets about the October night when she drove through a leaf pile, striking and killing two children she couldn’t see.
The first is that she went out that night. The second is that she didn’t return to the scene.
In her first public comments since being found guilty of hit-and-run, the 19-year-old woman told The Oregonian (https://is.gd/qg8UCs ) she has thought about the accident countless times.
“It’s terrible,” Garcia-Cisneros said. “It’s a terrible feeling.”
Garcia-Cisneros was sentenced to probation, but she faces possible deportation to Mexico. She’s incarcerated at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Tacoma, Wash. An immigration judge denied bond last week for Garcia-Cisneros, deeming her a danger and a flight risk.
Garcia-Cisneros has lived in the U.S. since she was 4. She had temporary permission to be in the country, but the criminal conviction may change that status.
Prosecutors said the crash that killed two stepsisters Oct. 20 in Forest Grove, 25 miles west of Portland, was an accident. The girls - 6-year-old Anna Dieter-Eckerdt and 11-year-old Abigail Robinson - were likely concealed by the leaves and not visible to the driver.
Minutes after the tragedy, the woman’s brother returned to the scene and saw a man standing over the pile, screaming. The boy went home and told his sister she may have hit two children.
She didn’t go back.
“I was trying to convince myself that what happened wasn’t real,” Garcia-Cisneros told The Oregonian. “It could have been someone else.”
What she felt in the leaves could have been a rock. Some other driver could have hit the girls. “Maybe,” she recalled thinking, “it wasn’t me that took their lives away.”
If allowed to stay in the U.S., Garcia-Cisneros wants to do something for Anna and Abigail that might make a difference. She wants to speak at schools about what happened. She wants teenagers to know they are not alone when faced with the unimaginable. They should tell someone, she said. They should ask for help.
She wants other people to know how everything can change in an instant; how quickly you can lose what you had.
Garcia-Cisneros wants to return to Forest Grove, though it won’t be easy with reminders of the crash everywhere. She lived with her father and brother, around the corner from Anna and Abigail’s house. The girls last played beneath a tree. A yarn-covered tribute covers its trunk with a host of love notes and pictures.
Beyond the tree, a new playground is planned. The neighborhood’s children are helping in its design in the girls’ memory.
Information from: The Oregonian, https://www.oregonlive.com
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