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Texas immigrant families struggle with girls’ deaths

An older teen was arrested in Amarillo after he was turned over to police by his family. The 19-year-old suspect is accused of causing a fatal pedestrian-vehicle accident after striking and killing two friends walking at an intersection in the north Texas community.

The girls killed in the car accident were 13- and 14-year-old immigrants and classmates at a local middle school. The children were born in Tanzania and moved to Amarillo with their families in 2011.

Police reports say the fatal collision happened in the evening when a Dodge Ram pickup truck struck the teens not far from an apartment complex where one of the girls lived. The truck driver reportedly left the scene of the deadly crash, only to reappear later at the police station accompanied by family members.

The teenage driver was charged by Texas authorities with double counts of causing an accident resulting in injuries or death. Reports did not say whether the suspect was being held in custody or whether bail was set and posted.

Police do not believe that the accident was alcohol related.

Relatives reported that the girls who died had spent their last day together, attending church and sharing a meal with a family member. The girls’ families were notified of the pedestrian accident by the mother of a boy who witnessed the tragedy.

The teens had died by the time relatives could reach the scene.

A community group is hoping to defray at least some of the staggering costs of the girls’ funeral and burial expenses.

It doesn’t matter whether youth or panic or some other reason drives a motorist to flee an accident scene. Leaving injured or dying victims behind without trying to assist them is a crime.

The relatives of the two best friends have no way to bring their children back. Wrongful death lawsuits filed in civil court can help compensate the grieving families for their economic losses, including the costs of the children’s funerals.

Source: amarillo.com, "Fatal hit-and-run: Refugee families mourn loss of teen daughters," Russell Anglin, Oct. 1, 2012

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