Socorro Family Grieves, DA Investigates

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POSTED: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 10:11pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 10:00am

SUV Rollover Killed 10-year old Girl

Today the 4-wheel trucks were back as usual at what's called the Clint Pit, a kind of dune wasteland with steep sandy cliffs, a favorite destination for 4-wheel riders.  It was here as darkenss fell on Sunday night, that eight people in a Chevy Tahoe rolled down the embankment, flipping several times until it settled at the bottom of the pit. The family's grief was too much to bear as they learned that the 10-year old girl, riding in the back, did not survive.

Today Socorro ISD sent counselors to Escontrias Elementary to speak with students and parents upset by the news.

Assistant Superintendent Pat O'Neill tells Newschannel 9, "It's a very sad situation. We consider everyone in our district to be part of our family so when we have a tragedy like this we feel like we lost a member of the family."

As Sheriff's investigators try to determine what happened, another question lingers:  could the parents be held responsible for their childs death, and face criminal charges? Sheriff's deputies tell Newschannel 9 the victim's parents were in the front of the Tahoe, leaving little doubt that one of them was driving. in a situation like this one, are  parents taking proper care of a child under the law?

District Attorney Jaime Esparza says of situations like this one, "There are some legal requirements which if they are not met, might indicate that the act is criminally negligent or criminally reckless, It's possible"

With the investigation underway the sheriff's office offered no new details today. It's still not confirmed for example whether the girl or anyone in the SUV were wearing seat belts. Belts aren't required in private areas, even in a place like the Clint Pit, where people pursue the often dangerous hobby of off-road driving.

Esparza says, "Just because we haven't forced you to do it (wear seat belts) doesn't mean you shouldn't do it...When people do their various hobbies and children are involved, you as a parent are responsible for those children, for  their care, and to make sure theyre protected."

D-A Esparza can't comment on this specific case...but is working jointly with the Sheriffs office to decide whether charges are appropriate. For now a family and a community try to gain peace from it all. So far, no funeral arrangments are set for the little girl...

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