HANFORD, California - The driver accused of causing an accident that killed a Hanford teenager appeared before a judge on Tuesday morning. Ashley Engen is facing a minor charge after an accident in Fresno County that killed 14-year-old Marissa Cardona last year in March.
Engen is facing a minor charge of involuntary manslaughter without gross negligence. On Tuesday, a judge postponed the arraignment until June. Marissa's family hopes that the additional time will allow the Fresno County District Attorney's Office to gather more evidence that will lead to more severe charges.
"We are all together and just looking for answers. And we just want justice for Marissa," said Rocky Cardona, Marissa's father.
More than a year has passed since the Saturday morning Marissa and her mother were on their way to a softball tournament. At the intersection of Monte Whitney Avenue and Cedar Avenue, a vehicle collided with them. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) said that Engen was behind the wheel of the other vehicle and did not attempt to stop at the stop sign while going at 76 mph. Marissa died at the scene of the accident. Her mother, Leticia, is still wheelchair-bound, recovering from injuries that have changed her life.
"It's like we have to wake up with that reality every day," said Rocky Cardona. "That she's not with us."
Marissa's family hopes that the next time Engen appears before a judge, the charges she faces will be more severe. "This morning they indicated that they are seeking additional information, and we hope that that information is the information that we have been asking them to look for for some time," said attorney Kevin Little.
Marissa's family wants the Fresno County District Attorney's Office to get to the bottom of whether Engen could have been under the influence or distracted. "One of the main things we're asking for is that medical records, phone records, something that tells us what was going on in that car at the time of the accident, be obtained," said Marissa's father.
Engen must return to court on June 1st. In addition to the criminal charges, there is also an ongoing civil case. The complaint alleges that although there have been several accidents at the intersection, the county did not install a traffic control device or add signage. It also names Engen and her partner, Stephen Smith, who was the owner of the vehicle, as defendants.
Originally posted at Liga Legal® Abogados