‘She is such a bright light’: Friends concerned about violent crash victims

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque father and his 10-year-old daughter continue their fight to survive after a violent crash earlier this week.

Albuquerque police said a man high on meth stole an SUV, blew through a stop sign and crashed into the family Tuesday morning near Expo New Mexico.

Those who know the family said David Pizarro was taking his 10-year-old daughter, Penny, to school when the crash happened. Their injuries are life-threatening.

Those who know Penny are concerned. Cena Reaves is one of Penny’s Girl Scout troop leaders.

“It’s horrible. It’s just absolutely horrible,” Reaves said.

Penny is still in critical condition and cannot breathe on her own.

“She is such a bright light. She is fun-loving. She is super kind,” Reaves said. “She’s always smiling. She’s always excited to try new things.”

Heartbroken girl scouts hope they can get their friend back.

“It’s just horrible to think that she’s going to be dealing with this forever,” Reaves said.

Both Penny and David have traumatic brain injuries, according to those who know the family. David is awake but isn’t able to understand what happened. He’s a Navy veteran and is the sole provider for Penny.

There is a GoFundMe page for the Pizarro family, and the Girl Scouts said those interested in helping can also contact them.

Albuquerque police said the suspect, John Bearden Jr., stole a state government SUV that was left running. Officers say he admitted to everything, and they believe he was high on meth at the time.

Bearden was in court Thursday. His attorney asked for more time before a judge decides whether he stays in jail until his trial. A hearing is scheduled for April 10.

The “Arnold Tool” recommends Bearden be released with conditions. Reaves’ stance is clear.

“Tell your leaders that this is not acceptable to let people like this back out on the street,” she said.

Reaves’ comment shows the debate over keeping some suspects in jail until trial. It’s a topic state lawmakers discussed during the recent legislative session, but on which they did not take action.

Prosecutors like Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman have said they want to see more people accused of violent crimes kept in jail.

“We have to also consider the safety of the community. I’m disappointed of course that the rebuttable presumption law that I was supporting did not make it through the legislature,” Bregman told KOB 4 on March 23.

A Bernalillo County District Attorney spokesperson said on Thursday that the office will continue its efforts.

KOB 4 asked Democratic state lawmakers what they may have planned for next year’s session. Democrats are the party with the majority in both houses and many have not supported many of the proposals to make changes to the system.

Top Senate Democrat Gerald Ortiz y Pino, (D), Bernalillo County, said the system is working, and the data reflects that.

“We just didn’t see any reason to make changes in what’s going on now. I know people are upset about a few high-profile cases,” Ortiz y Pino said.

Top Democrats in the House pointed to what state lawmakers did pass – funding for accurate data and pretrial services.

“I feel like we are making progress on pretrial detention and on other aspects of crime,” said State Sen. Meredith Dixon, (D) Bernalillo County.

Democratic state lawmakers said they are working on proposals for next year’s session, but they do not have specifics right now.

Public defenders maintain that they want to keep the system the way it is, saying there will always be people released and committing new crimes.

“You can’t stop that from happening unless you hold every single person accused of a crime, which is not reasonable or lawful,” assistant public defender Jonathan Ibarra said.

Ibarra said it is important to note many people accused of crimes are not ultimately convicted.

UPDATE: Judge Stanley Whitaker ruled April 10 to keep Bearden behind bars while the case proceeds.