HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — The family of a 7-year-old girl killed in a hit-and-run accident want to know why the suspect has still not been arrested three months after he was identified.
“I want to ask him, ‘How do you sleep at night knowing you took a little girl from her family?’” Tiara McDaniel said, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Her only daughter and the family’s baby, Journee McDaniel, was driving with two cousins as they left her brother’s birthday party at Bay Area Raceway.
“She was only 7 years old. She still had a lot of life and she was full of life,” said her father Jermaine McDaniel.
ORIGINAL STORY: Hit-and-run accident in South Beltway area kills girl and injures driver and boy, HPD says
It was December 11, 2021.
Houston police said a black pickup truck sped through a stop posted on Cullen Boulevard and Schurmier Road. The pickup hit the car Journee was driving. She died in the hospital.
“It will be 8 months this month. I wasn’t the same anymore,” Tiara said.
Police say the suspect driver, Pedro Vargas Garcia, ran away from the scene. An hour later he reportedly called the police to report the theft of his truck.
According to court records, during the interview he submitted a DNA swab for his stolen truck, and in May that DNA came back as a match for DNA found on his steering wheel airbag, which deployed in the crash.
But it took another two months before the charges and warrant were filed in July, and just days after that, Garcia hired a lawyer.
“It’s been eight months and he’s free to roam. He lied and said someone stole his vehicle. They all find out he’s lying and it’s like ‘OK,’” Tiara said.
In fact, court filings dated July 7 said, “Defendant celebrates and crashes, leaves scene where 7-year-old child dies, then lies about stealing his vehicle.”
ABC13 asked Houston police why no arrests were made.
They tell us it is an active investigation and a spokesperson is working to give us answers.
Journee’s parents say the longer it takes to get justice in her case, the longer her grief, anger and pain grow.
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Journee McDaniel killed: Hit-and-run suspect Pedro Vargas Garcia still at large despite charges in 7-year-old’s death