19-year-old in leaf-pile deaths avoids deportation

PORTLAND — An immigration judge has dismissed the case against a 19-year-old Oregon woman who faced possible deportation to Mexico after she drove an SUV into a leaf pile, accidentally killing two young girls playing in it.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday that Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros was released from a Tacoma immigration detention center Aug. 14. She was in removal proceedings and had been held at the facility since February.

An ICE spokesman declined to say why the case was dropped, citing privacy issues.

Earlier this year, Garcia-Cisneros was sentenced to three years’ probation and 250 hours of community service. A jury found her guilty of two counts of felony hit-and-run.

Prosecutors say the Oct. 20 crash in Forest Grove, 25 miles west of Portland, was an accident. But they say the young woman failed to come forward after learning she might have struck the children in the leaf pile, which was on the street. Police found her the following day.

Authorities said the two girls — later identified as stepsisters, Anna Dieter-Eckerdt, 6, and Abigail Robinson, 11 — likely were concealed by the leaves and not visible to Garcia-Cisneros.

Minutes after Garcia-Cisneros drove through the leaves on her way home, her brother returned to the scene and saw a man standing over the pile, screaming. The man spoke to him briefly. The boy went home and told his sister she might have hit two children.

Defense attorney Ethan Levi previously said Garcia-Cisneros was in a state of shock and denial after learning of the children and fixated on the possibility she wasn’t the driver who struck them. At her sentencing hearing, she told the girls’ parents, Tom Robinson and Susan Dieter-Robinson, that she deeply regretted not going back. The parents offered her their forgiveness.

Garcia-Cisneros was brought to the U.S. from Mexico as a 4-year-old. She has temporary permission to be in the country legally under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, meaning she has a work permit, a driver’s license and a Social Security number.

Immigration attorney Courtney Carter, who represented the teen, was not immediately available for a comment. Neither was Garcia-Cisneros.

“Today is like any other day without our girls,” said Susan Dieter-Robinson, Anna and Abigail’s mother. “Through our grief we have chosen to love and celebrate the joy that they have brought into our lives and the lives of so many others.”

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