Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Naranja Drive St. Patrick's Day Tragedy: Here's What Happened

There was nothing the teens could do to avoid the tragedy ... The car was driving in the shoulder lane...headed right at them
There was nothing they could’ve done to avoid the tragedy that was about to befall them. A 3,300 pound car traveling east at 43 mph in the right shoulder of Naranja Drive, clearly over the fog line, struck them on St. Patrick’s Day this year. That's two months go today.

They were walking east, almost at the intersection of Naranja Drive and Pomegranate. The car came up from behind them. Only one of them saw it coming. It happened so fast. One of the victims "...observed a small black car that seem to move over and then came back towards her as it got closer at which time it hit them."

They were no brakes applied.

Police conclude that the driver was distracted by something
...possibly the open “Maps app” on their phone. or perhaps the driver “zoned out” after getting only a few hours of sleep after a night of "drinking."

Regardless, for some reason, the driver, Sabrina Garcia, didn’t see the teens until it was too late. The passenger side of her car was well into the designated pedestrian lane (shoulder). It was only inches from the where the land ends and the dirt begins.

At or just after the moment of impact, based on our reading of the Oro Valley Police Department detail incident report, 13-year old Olivia Villalobos was killed and her sister Avry incurred life threatening injuries.  A dog Olivia was pushing in the carriage was also killed at that moment; and a dog that Avry was walking was hit so hard that it landed in the wash, on the other side of the guard rail, dying from critical injuries. A friend who was walking with them, Emily, was just a few steps away, in the dirt on the south of the curb. She did not get hit.

Tremendous family suffering

The police report documents the human suffering on the part of the family. It is heartbreaking. This was the worst day of their lives and then some. Imagine, your child goes out for a walk with her friend and sister and her pets and she doesn’t come back. Devastating.

As Olivia‘s mother, Casey Lutz, said in response to a posting we made online:

“Olivia was just a baby girl trying to enjoy a day walking to the park with her sister and her old, VERY old (hence the stroller) dog, and she was killed, and her sister left with such severe injuries she will never be the same again. None of our lives will be the same again. Be safe out there guys.. it's just crazy… I won't be driving down that road again but maybe [safety improvements] will save your children from being is a park after all …Olivia would want the kids to be safe.”
Not one mother. Not one father. Not one grandparent. Should ever suffer this tragedy.

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Note: Police have filed two charges against Garcia. She is currently set for arraignment on June 7 at 9am in the Oro Valley Magistrate Court. You can listen to court proceeding here. Click on the "live audio courtroom" link.

Note: Per the Police Report: Garcia's version of what happened is that  "..when she turned [from Naranja Park east toward first avenue], she recalls seeing people walking on the shoulder of eastbound Naranja Dr. She advised that she was in her lane about to pass the teenagers when she observed the dog stroller suddenly turn to the left 'like she was going to cross the road'. [The investigation concluded that there was no reason Olivia would have done this as she was going to turn right onto Pomegranate to go home]. [Garcia] said the next thing that she noticed was that there was 'legs in the air'. Sabrina told [the reporting officer] that she then came to a stop and called the police. [The reporting officer] asked her how fast she thinks she was going and she said approximately 20mph. [The reporting officer] asked her if she was distracted while driving and she stated no."

Source: The source of this report is the Oro Valley Police Department "Detail Incident Report". The report is replete with details regarding the scene.  We have chosen not to repeat the ugliness of it all. You are welcome to read the report. Though we caution, you do so at your own risk because it is upsetting.