Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, age 19, Convicted for Hit and Run / My Thoughts

For those of us who live in the Portland Metro area, the story is familiar.  At approximately 8:00PM, last October, two young girls were playing in a pile of leaves at the side of a street.  ‘Leaf pick-up’ was to be the following morning.  Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, 18 years of age at the time, on a lark, drove through the pile of leaves on her way home.  Anna Dieter-Eckerdt, age 6, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Her stepsister, Abigail Robinson, died later at a local hospital.  It was a tragedy.

Cinthya knew she had hit something, perhaps a rock she thought or hoped; but continued to her residence.  She undoubtedly suspected something untoward.  Her younger brother rode his bike back to the scene, saw that the two young girls were severely injured, and then rode home to inform his sister, Cinthya.

Cinthya and her boyfriend (who had also been in the car) did not return to the accident scene and report their possible involvement.  And, in fact, they made some efforts to conceal their responsibility including running their car through a car wash.  Cinthya was later identified by law enforcement and arrested.  She has now been convicted on two counts of ‘felony hit and run’ and as an illegal immigrant (brought to the US by her parents at age 4) is facing possible deportation.

The reason this case struck home with me, as I’m sure it has with many others, was due to my recollection of my own youth.  At 17 or 18, I did some really stupid things, often more dangerous and ill-conceived than driving through a pile of leaves along a street.  But, I was lucky.  Generally speaking, no one was seriously hurt by my actions, including me.  Nonetheless, I asked myself:  What would you do if you had encountered the same circumstances faced by Cinthya?

First off, driving through the pile of leaves, I could see me doing the very same thing, at 18, especially if trying to impress a girlfriend.  However, when I was made aware of the injuries, the similarities tend to evaporate at that point.  I would have talked to my parents, and they, I’m sure, would have told me to return to the scene, or taken me to the scene, and had me face the consequences.  If they were not available, I honestly believe I would have returned on my own.  But, I must admit, I was not facing the insecurities and trepidation of being an ‘illegal’ in the country.

I can recall an incident when I was about 7 or 8.  We lived in a somewhat dilapidated rented house in the middle of an orchard.  I had no friends nearby.  Down the drive, about 50 yards, there was a two-lane paved highway.  It seemed like a good idea to a very bored young boy; but I was ‘skipping’ rocks in front of cars – as I hid on the edge of the orchard.  One rock was a little too close to a speeding car.  It bounced up and cracked the windshield.  The car slammed on his brakes.  I ran as fast as I could back to the house, told my mother briefly I had done something terribly wrong and hid in the clothes hamper in my parents’ bedroom.  The driver came to the door, told my mother what happened, and advised that a young boy ran in the direction of our house.

Mom looked at the car.  She then, to my deep gratitude at the time, lied for me.  She said that young kids often played in the orchard and that no young boy lived at their house.  The driver left angry, but apparently did not call the sheriff’s office – as he should have probably done.  No one was injured, but it could have been so much worse.  I got a good scolding.

Did my mother do the right thing?  Probably not.  Did she later doubt herself?  My guess is yes.  She was angry, but never, to my knowledge, said anything to my dad.  Was she, also, frightened by the confrontation involving an irate man?  I believed at the time that she was.  Being a somewhat normal young boy, I did not learn the negative lesson that lying is the way to deal with bad circumstances.  I did learn a lesson that actions often have consequences and that I was responsible for my actions.  I felt guilty that my mother had to lie on my behalf.  More importantly, to my young mind, I hated the idea that she had been frightened over something that I had done.  I never put her in that position again.

Cinthya’s actions were na├»ve and stupid.  There was no possibility that she would remain undiscovered.  After all, she lived in the neighborhood.  It was an accident no doubt.  All she needed to do was return to the scene.  Consequences there would be, but not criminal charges.

Will she be deported?  I doubt it.  Does she deserve to be deported?  I don’t think so.

However, the question remains:  Why were two young girls playing in a pile of leaves, along a street, after dark?

True Nelson
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