Girl killed in hit-run described as shy, giving and thoughtful
PORTLAND, Ore. - There's something special about a dad and his daughter.
For Randal Eckerdt, 6-year-old Anna was his only daughter, his only child. And now she's gone.
"It's really tough," said Jane Samuels, Randal's fiance, as she stood on their doorstep in North Portland Wednesday night. "I think it will take him a while to come to terms with that."
Anna would spend every other weekend at the home. It was where Jane was already called "stepmom."
Anna and her 11-year-old sister, Abigail Robinson were killed in what police say was a hit-and-run Sunday night while they played in a pile of leaves in Forest Grove.
While their families grieve, the two 18-year-olds arrested in the case pleaded not guilty Wednesday.
Court documents reveal they told detectives they meant to hit the leaves but then heard a "loud bump" and kept driving.
Police say that Cinthya Garcia Cisneros was driving the SUV that hit the two girls. Her boyfriend, Mario Echeverria, is charged with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution.
Echeverria was released from jail Wednesday night.
"She's really a special little girl," Jane said about Anna. "Giving and thoughtful. (A) little bit shy, but when she got to know you she was really playful and energetic and creative.
Now the family is dealing with her absence.
But the community's support has helped. Even the food cooking in the kitchen while Jane spoke to a reporter came from friends and neighbors.
"We're really moved by how much support we have, how many people have come forward to help us out and total strangers helping us out, which is really amazing," Jane said.
The community and both families that always surrounded Anna and Abigail are coming together.
"I'm very floored ... by the strength Anna's mom and stepdad have, and what they're going through," Jane said.
They're looking for love and positivity in this time of tragedy, just like Anna would want.
They're even feeling for the two people police say are responsible.
"My heart goes out to them," Jane said. "I feel like they are in a really difficult spot. And the bottom line here is everybody's lives have changed."