Mom and dad call for state to close hit-and-run loophole, propose 'Anna and Abigail's Law'

Abigail Robinson and Anna Dieter-Eckerdt. (Family Photo)

A mother and father shared emotional testimony before Oregon’s House Judiciary Committee Tuesday afternoon, advocating for a new bill that would close a loophole in the state’s hit-and-run statutes.

Susan Robinson and her husband Tom sat before the group of legislators and shared the story of their two girls who were hit by an SUV and killed in front of their Forest Grove home in October 2014.

HB 4055 clarifies and strengthens Oregon’s hit-and-run statues by explicitly requiring drivers to take specific actions upon learning they have been involved in a collision. Under current law, these requirements only take effect if a driver realizes they have been in an accident. Oregon statutes do not address the duties and requirements of a driver who is unaware they were involved in a collision until after they have left the scene of the incident.

“Anna and Abigail were doing what many kids did that day due to the odd, dry weather we were having. They were playing in the leaves and hiding,” Susan said in front of the committee.

The driver did not know she hit the children at the time.

Court records say Cinthya Cisneros drove her Nissan Pathfinder through the pile of leaves but thought she went over a pothole. A few minutes later Cisneros’ brother passed by the scene on his bike, learned that the girls had been hit, and went back to tell Cisneros.

Cisneros did not go back to the scene after learning what happened and tried to hide evidence, according to court records. Police learned about her involvement after a neighbor tipped them off the next day.

Cisneros was eventually convicted of hit-and-run charges, but the appeals court reversed the decision because the Cisneros did not know she hit the girls at the time of the accident.

“PersonallAnnay, at the time this case happened, I didn't think we needed the change,” said Bracken McKey, senior deputy district attorney in Washington County.

McKey was in Salem with the Robinsons to testify. They called their proposed changes to the current statutes “Anna and Abigail’s Law.”

"I'm proud of my girls since they went to heaven; they've changed a lot of lives," Susan said.

Abigail's organs were donated to four people.

“I think the Legislature is going to make it crystal clear at this point and get us to a point where the court of appeals can no longer make that decision,” said McKey.

The Robinsons say it was excruciating to write their testimony for Tuesday’s hearing, but say they will continue to fight for their daughters.

“I still forgive [Cisneros], we still forgive her,” said Susan.

“We believe in forgiveness, but we also believe in accountability,” added Tom.

“And now we're looking towards the future, because we won't be the only family to deal with something like this,” said Susan.

The bill is still in committee.

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