Families of fatal crash victims wait for justice as case against driver progresses

Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 10:37 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Tonight, families are one step closer to justice, three years after a deadly crash that police say was caused by a distracted driver.

In 2019, Caitlin Festerling and Paul Garcia were killed in a car crash when their vehicle was rear-ended and pushed into oncoming traffic. Investigators say the vehicle driver who rear-ended them was texting and driving.

The memorial at Shannon and Sahuaro Divide has been there for years as the families of Caitlin Festerling and Paul Garcia sought justice. On Friday, there was an arraignment for the driver, Jana Brianne Giron, over three years since these families were changed forever.

“It feels like it’s about time. This has been going on for so long and it’s definitely been a rollercoaster ride of emotions,” said Julie Festerling, Caitlin’s mother.

The indictment for Giron came down last week, and today she was arraigned on the following charges: two counts of manslaughter, two counts of criminal damage, endangerment, and tampering with physical evidence.

Festerling says waiting for justice has made it hard to grieve the loss of Caitlin and Paul.

“We want justice. We want the person who caused the crash to be held accountable,” she explained. “She’s not showing any remorse. That’s what came up in court today, the lack of remorse, the lack of accountability. There’s been no empathy or sympathy shown at all.”

Festerling says COVID pushed back the case and kept it from moving forward. During that time, she and Paul’s mom took action by co-founding the nonprofit “Phones Down, Just Drive.” Together, they are working to educate the community and make roadways safer.

″April being National Distracted Driver Awareness Month, I’ve partnered up with DPS. There’s a State Trooper, Tim Vargo, who I go into schools with. He and I talk to students in health classes, in driver’s ed classes,” said Festerling.

They also have plans to hand OUT hands-free device holders to anyone who needs one. Festerling says she wants people to understand that no one is invincible. She hopes the message behind “Phones Down, Just Drive” will keep this from happening to other families and keep the memory of Caitlin and Paul alive.

″They had a whole future ahead and them and that future got cut short just because of someone’s selfishness,” she said. “So, I just want everyone to remember how amazing these kids are. They still are. They’re in heaven and they’re watching over us. They’re still with us and that’s what keeps us going.”

The family tells 13 News the next hearing will be May 26th at 9 a.m.