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Driver's boyfriend had turned his academic life around


Mario Echeverria, 18, was so far behind on the path to graduating from high school that he had to attend the Community Alternative Learning Center (CALC) in Forest Grove.

“From what I hear, he struggled a little his freshman and sophomore year, but did a complete 180 and graduated on time,” said Tami Erion, assistant principal of Forest Grove High School.

“All of a sudden, he had this change,” said Kim Jensen, who taught at CALC while Echeverria was there. “He turned his life around. He was one of the kids who earned a Distinguished Student Award.”

Echeverria is the boyfriend of Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, who struck and killed two young girls last week with a car belonging to Echeverria’s mother. He was in the car with her at the time.

He has been charged with hindering prosecution, a class C felony. According to police records, Echeverria admitted to officers that he took the vehicle to a car wash to “eliminate the evidence in order to protect Garcia-Cisneros.”

Attorney Anne Tracey is representing Echeverria, who was released on bail Thursday, Oct. 24.

“This breaks my heart,” Jensen said. “It is so sad in so many ways.”

She said when Echeverria finally began attending school regularly and getting his work done, “you could see a transformation in that he was going to graduate and be successful.”

Jensen attributed much of Echeverria’s success to Garcia (Cinthya Garcia does not use the Cisneros in her name).

“She pushed him. She inspired him,” Jensen said. Garcia also taught her boyfriend how to cook.

“For his senior project, he cooked a meal,” Jensen remembers. “He wanted to learn how to cook for his family, to help his mom out because she worked.”

Jensen said Garcia had the same effect on her younger brother. “She was a positive influence. She was pulling them along with her to be successful.”

Jensen was shocked to learn about their role in the accident.

Echeverria and Garcia made a bad decision to not stop at the accident scene, she said. But “I keep thinking, ‘What would I have done when I was 18?’”

Jensen remembers Echeverria as “the sweetest, nicest kid. He wasn’t a cocky person. He made me proud,” she said. “I want him to know if he reads this that I care about him — and Cindy too.”