17-year-old driver accused in deadly hit-and-run turns himself in, police say

Giselle Martinez was struck by a hit-and-run driver on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. She died the following day from her injuries. (Source: Martinez Family)

The family of Giselle Martinez continues to grieve the teen’s death, but as of Monday some of their prayers have been answered.

Monday afternoon, El Paso police said Samuel Thomas Garcia, who is accused of the hit-and-run that killed the 13-year-old, was found.

Garcia was a fugitive wanted by El Paso Police Department for a brief moment until he turned himself in, according to police. Garcia, 17, was arrested for the accident involving death, they said.

An arrest warrant was issued Monday and the vehicle involved, a silver F-150, was seized with the help of Sunland Park Police Department and New Mexico State Police, said police.

Police said Garcia lives in Sunland Park, New Mexico but frequently visits a home in 700 block of Elmwood Court, about a block away from where Giselle was struck.

KFOX14 spoke with Giselle’s stepfather, Luis Simental before and after authorities said the driver had been located.

Simental demanded the driver to come forward. Following the alert from police about the accused driver’s whereabouts Simental said, “Good news, I’m happy to hear that he’s been located. Thank you Jesus, now we can begin to have some closure."

He said in the four years he knew Giselle she always had a smile on her face.

“She was such a special person. She was lovable she was friendly. Everywhere she went she created smiles,” said Simental.

He described their bond as one of a kind.

“It’s almost like when you create your first child and you have that bond every day there’s a smile. It was like I created her and she made me feel that way,” he said. “She was an angel.”

Simental told KFOX14 he will demand for safer streets in his neighborhood.

He hopes that sidewalks are installed along Montoya Drive.

“How many more kids, how many more angels like Giselle is it going to take for them to spend a little bit of money on that street?”

KFOX14 asked city officials what the process is for adding sidewalks along Montoya Drive and if they ever received requests for sidewalks along that roadway.

City of El Paso spokeswoman Tammy Fonce told KFOX14 she is not aware of any recent reviews of Montoya Drive but it has received requests from people to put sidewalks along the road.

“But if we get the city to understand, hopefully in her name, we know we’re going to stop this and we’re not going have any more unneeded deaths,” said Simental.

Fonce told KFOX14 the city will review the police report and evaluate Montoya Drive once that report is analyzed.

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