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DIGGING DEEPER: Woman cited for failure to control speed after causing crash, killing two

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ORO VALLEY, Ariz. - The News 4 Tucson Digging Deeper Team has been taking a closer look at the case of a young couple whose lives were cut short in a crash last November in Oro Valley, Ariz.

It's a day, Julie Festerling and Deborah Garcia, the mothers of the victims, will never forget. 

"The kids weren't doing anything wrong. They were simply sitting there, making a left-hand turn when they got rear-ended and pushed into oncoming traffic," Festerling said.

For the two grieving mothers, the loss of each of their children is almost too much to bear.

To make matters worse, Festerling believes, "Justice is not being served, because we are overlooking the simple facts that are right there in front of us."

As the Digging Deeper Team first reported, the Pima County Attorney's Office is refusing to prosecute the driver that rear-ended Caitlin Festerling and Paul Garcia on November 13, 2019.

It happened near the intersection of N. Shannon Road and W. Saguaro Divide.

"We were told there was alcohol in the car, then we were told there was not alcohol in the car," Festerling said. "Then we were told by the Pima County Attorney that the alcohol happened to be right next to the driver."

According to a 72-page police report obtained by the Digging Deeper Team, there was in fact a bottle of whiskey found on the floorboard of the car that rear-ended the couple.

The report goes on to say that investigators did conduct a field sobriety test and found no impairment.  

The mothers of the victims are still grieving.

"Why wasn't more there a more thorough sobriety test conducted?," Festerling questioned.

The report also said the driver of the car, who rear-ended Caitlin and Paul, denied she was texting at the time of the crash.

However, an acquaintance told investigators he received a text message from the driver, just one minute before the crash was reported.

The acquaintance even showed Verizon records that showed the driver's number texting him and his response.

When detectives looked at the driver's cellphone, the text wasn't there and the driver repeatedly denied deleting it.

"It just seems like that should be enough evidence to prosecute," Festerling said.

According to the Pima County Attorney's Office, there wasn't enough evidence.

At least not to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

No distracted driving charges were ever filed in the case.

Last month, the driver was cited for failure to control speed to avoid a collision.

In an emailed statement to the Digging Deeper Team, the Pima County Attorney's Office said they will bring charges if new evidence is uncovered but for now, the case is closed.

"These were two really good kids. They were working, they were going to school. They cared and loved everyone, they took care of everyone," Garcia said. "They were two of the sweetest, most kind-hearted people you'd ever want to meet in your life."

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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