110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Jen Horton
posted Sep 13, 2012 - 9:06:01am
Juliana Hobbs would have turned 15 on Sept. 18.
“We would have gotten her learner’s permit, completed that rite of passage,” Juliana’s older sister Courtney Meyers said.
Instead of learning about parallel parking, Juliana is dead.
On the night of March 17, Juliana and friend Rachel Russell were walking along South Spring Garden Avenue when they were both hit by a car.
The driver left the two teens bleeding on the road.
Rachel sustained minor injuries.
Six months later, Juliana’s family is still suffering.
They are suffering from grief, and they are suffering from a feeling that authorities aren’t working hard enough to find Juliana’s killer.
Meyers said the Florida Highway Patrol and the State Attorney’s Office have not been forthcoming with her family.
“I heard there was a 75-page report about this, and we asked for it,” Meyers said. “We received two pages.”
She continued, “When we call, we get no reply. It’s been six months,” Meyers said. “The silence is awful.”
The positive identification of the vehicle is one more step toward closure. Meanwhile, the family watches the landmarks go by: what would have been Juliana’s first day of high school, what would have been the day she got her learner’s permit. Each date brings a feeling like salt smeared in an open wound.
“It feels like it’s never going to end,” Meyers said.
Meyers and her family would like to see justice served. They would like to see the driver of the car held responsible.
“I know that having [the driver] in jail will not bring my sister back,” Meyers said. “But right now, she’s just a free person.”
In March, Kim Montes, public-affairs officer for the Florida Highway Patrol, reported that a gold 2004 Toyota Corolla had been impounded and taken to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to be processed for evidence.
The vehicle had been located in Pierson, after the car’s owner contacted the FHP. At the time, the FHP would not identify her.
Volusia County Sheriff’s Office dispatch logs show that officers from the FHP and sheriff’s deputies went to a home at 220 S. Ridgewood Ave. in DeLand on March 19, in regard to a car that might have been involved in a traffic homicide on March 17.
A report was made of the visit that day, but it cannot be made public because of the ongoing investigation, Montes said.
On Sept. 12, a woman who said her name was Danielle answered the door when The Beacon knocked at 220 S. Ridgewood Ave., but said she was getting ready for work and couldn’t talk.
Meyers said she met with officials at the State Attorney’s Office, and learned they don’t have a case file on Juliana’s death. At press time, The Beacon was still awaiting confirmation from the State Attorney’s Office.
“It’s a pain all on its own to have the case open,” Meyers said.
She said her mother is “doing OK, taking it day-by-day.”
Meyers was eight years older than Juliana, and she has picked up the mantle of seeking justice for her sister.
She recalled the simple pleasures of hanging out.
“I was there for her, for anything,” Meyers said. “We used to go walk down the railroad tracks, walk for hours, just talking.”
Juliana was an organ donor. Meyers said it’s been a comfort to the family to know that other people’s lives were saved.
“We actually received a letter from a little girl who received her heart,” Meyers said. “My sister saved a lot of lives. That is an amazing feeling, that she does live on.”
For the driver of the car, Meyers has a few questions. Her prayer is to one day have the answers, to help bring a small bit of closure to her family’s permanently broken heart.
“How can you live with yourself? How can you walk around free knowing what you did?” Meyers asked. “Why wouldn’t you turn yourself in?”
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