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Police still looking for suspect in fatal hit-and-run crash

Police say Paulina Vargas-Ochoa was struck by a car while crossing the street near her home in Phoenix. They say instead of stopping to help, the driver took off.

PHOENIX — This story has been updated to include information from Silent Witness. The original story was published in 2023.

A 16-year-old girl was killed in a hit-and-run crash over a year ago and Phoenix police are still searching for a suspect. 

Around 10:30 p.m. on June 9, 2023, Paulina Vargas-Ochoa was walking home. She was just a few blocks away on 27th Avenue crossing near Weldon Avenue when she was struck by a car. Instead of stopping, police said the driver fled south. 

Paulina was rushed to the hospital but did not survive her injuries.

“She said she feels like she got taken as well with her,” a translator for Anabel Ochoa, Paulina’s mother, told 12News last year. “She was her everything.”

Anabel Ochoa said her daughter had dreams of becoming a veterinarian and wanted to learn the accordion. Now, the teen’s life has been cut far too short.

“She was a great person,” Ochoa said. “She impacted a lot of lives and a lot of people.”

Phoenix police and Silent Witness have offered a reward of up to $2,000 for any information regarding the investigation. Police said the suspect vehicle is a 2015 or newer black Chrysler 300 with tinted windows, black rims and damage to the front windshield on the passenger. 

As police continue to search for a suspect, the Ochoa family hopes justice will bring them some semblance of closure.

“She hopes that [the driver] gets a sign from God and turns himself in and realizes what he’s done and shows his face,” Ochoa’s translator told 12News last year.

If you have any information about the hit-and-run, contact Phoenix PD or Silent Witness by calling 480-WITNESS.

Bianca Buono contributed to the reporting of this story.

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