No charges for driver in Gwinnett 4-year-old’s pedestrian death

Abigail Hernandez, 4, was fatally struck by a vehicle in the parking lot of the Mall of Georgia on March 10.

Credit: Family Photo

Credit: Family Photo

Abigail Hernandez, 4, was fatally struck by a vehicle in the parking lot of the Mall of Georgia on March 10.

Nearly a month after a 4-year-old girl was hit and killed by a pickup truck in the Mall of Georgia parking lot, Gwinnett County police decided not to file charges against the 18-year-old driver.

Abigail Joy Hernandez, known as Abby to her family, was one of three people hit by the Chevrolet Silverado on March 10, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. The two other victims, identified by family as Abby’s father and sister, were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Abby was rushed to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston Hospital but did not survive, officials said.

The location of the crash was critical for investigators, who determined whether to charge the driver with a crime. The truck was turning from the parking lot near Dick’s Sporting Goods onto Mall of Georgia Drive when it struck the pedestrians, who were crossing the street. The Mall of Georgia parking lot is private property.

According to Gwinnett police, the only traffic offenses they can enforce on private property are “serious” crimes, such as reckless driving, driving under the influence and hit-and-run. The decision not to file charges was made after discussions with the Gwinnett solicitor general, police said.

“We have meticulously examined all available evidence, including the vehicle’s Event Data Recorder information. The Accident Investigation Unit even conducted a thorough re-creation of the collision,” police said.

Investigators deemed that the driver was not driving recklessly and he was not under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, according to police. He also remained at the scene after the crash.

Marina Paz, Abby’s mother, wrote on social media that she was “enraged, disgusted, saddened and mind-blown” about the lack of charges.

“This isn’t the end,” Paz said. “I will fight for my baby until my last breath. Justice will be served. Consequences will be faced. My baby girl didn’t just tragically die in vain.”

Paz concluded her post by sharing the 18-year-old driver’s name and photo, though she did not say what charges she had expected to be filed. Police did not provide a more detailed description of the circumstances around the fatal crash, and Paz did not share her own account.

Paz said her family and others plan to protest outside the Gwinnett County Courthouse on Tuesday morning.