Fatal Leaf-Pile Accident Results in Guilty Conviction for Oregon Teen

A 19-year-old Oregon woman who drove an SUV into a pile of leaves that concealed two girls has been found guilty in the fatal hit-and-run case.

A Washington County jury took less than two hours Wednesday afternoon to find Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros guilty of felony charges, The Oregonian reported.

The woman learned after arriving home Oct. 20 she may have struck two children on Main Street in Forest Grove – 25 miles west of Portland – but didn’t come forward. Police found her the following day.

The prosecution said she was required to return to the scene of the accident as soon as she learned of it. Her defense lawyer said the law doesn’t say anything about the requirements when a driver learns only later about an accident.

Garcia-Cisneros was on her way home from getting fast food when she drove through the leaves. Her boyfriend and brother were passengers in the vehicle.

Neighbors had raked piles near the curb for leaf pick-up. Garcia-Cisneros hit the leaves shortly before 8:30 p.m., she testified, and felt a bump.

Within minutes, her brother returned to the scene on his way to his girlfriend’s house and saw a man standing over the pile, screaming. The man spoke to him briefly.

The boy went home and told his sister she may have hit two children. The girls were later identified as step-sisters, 6-year-old Anna Dieter-Eckerdt and 11-year-old Abigail Robinson. Anna died at the scene. Abigail died later at a Portland hospital.

Defense attorney Ethan Levi said Garcia-Cisneros was in a state of denial after learning of the children and fixated on the possibility she wasn’t the driver who struck them. Levi asked jurors to imagine themselves as a teen driver confronted with the same information.

“It would be shocking, and you would do anything you could to avoid it and disbelieve it,” he said. “You would want to cling to every piece of evidence that it didn’t happen.”

Prosecutor Bracken McKey told jurors that Garcia-Cisneros’ choice not to come forward was morally and legally wrong.

“She had an obligation to do the right thing,” McKey said, “and she didn’t.”