PCAO drops case involving a collision that seriously injured a Tucson toddler

Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 7:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Catalina Rodriguez was just two-years-old when a vehicle struck her stroller in a crosswalk near the intersection of West Irvington and South 9th Street on April 16 and kept on going.

Catalina’s family is calling for justice after the Pima County Attorney’s Office dropped their case, saying there isn’t enough evidence to pursue charges.

PCAO’s vehicular unit was unable to place the suspected driver at the scene of the crash, and says they wouldn’t be able to prove a hit and run occurred since there is no evidence suggesting the driver knew a collision occurred resulting in injury. KOLD is not identifying the alleged driver because he is not charged with a crime.

“the truck hit the stroller at the passenger side, the position farthest from the driver in a full-size truck. The truck’s contact with the pedestrians resulted in catastrophic injury to the child. However, if [suspect’s] truck were the one involved – which cannot be proven – it received very little damage,” prosecutors said in a statement.

But Catalina’s family questions the narrative presented by PCAO.

“If this man has no recollection of driving the vehicle involved, to us, who is driving the vehicle? You know every vehicle has an operator. If he wasn’t driving, give us the information of the person who was,” Paul Hernandez, Catalina’s uncle said.

Catalina is back home after about a month in the hospital following the incident. The family says a portion of Catalina’s brain had to be removed.

“My daughter had to fight for her life and she’s disabled now. She was this happy little girl running around full of life and now, she lays in the bed and she doesn’t have much movement. My daughter got stripped of her life and this man that did this to her gets to walk,” Cassandra Hernandez, Catalina’s mother, said.

Hernandez read PCAO’s statement for the first time and felt frustrated by what she feels is a lack of communication between the attorney’s office and her family.

″When I had that meeting with the attorney’s office, he practically said because my daughter’s not dead, they can’t charge him,” she said.

KOLD reached out to Pima County Attorney, Laura Conover who said that is inaccurate and did not come from their office.

Tucson police say they are handling the case, but with no new evidence, it will remain closed.

The family says they will continue to hold rallies like these until they get justice for Catalina. Her uncle also told us he plans to take it to the state capitol and the Arizona Supreme Court.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.