Driver in 2019 crash that killed 10-year-old Valley girl pleads not guilty

Francine Salazar would be 13 today and preparing to start middle school this year.

Vanessa Vasconcelos Image
Saturday, August 6, 2022 3:01AM
EMBED <>More Videos

Nearly 3 years after Francine Salazar's death, her family members are voicing frustration, saying they want justice for the life taken too soon.

TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Almost three years to the day after their daughter, 10-year-old Francine Salazar, was killed in a Tulare County crash, Hanah and John Blakely are still waiting for the driver to face consequences.

"My daughter didn't deserve this, she didn't ask for this... we're going to fight for Francine's justice," says Hanah.

RELATED: 'Go to the light, to God:' Family says final goodbye to 10-year-old daughter days after car crash

It was August of 2019 when Hanah was making a first-day-of-school ice cream run with all five of her kids in the car.

The CHP says their vehicle was struck by a driver who missed a stop sign.

Francine would be 13 today and preparing to start middle school this year.

Her mother saved pieces of art and school work, a reminder of the bright future her star had.

Hanah has been studying to become an RN and says she misses the surprises Francine would leave in her bag before big exams.

In addition to her love of art, Francine had dreams of becoming a famous Youtuber or a TikTok star.

While her life was cut short, she saved four others with the donation of her heart, pancreas and both kidneys and was honored in her final moments at Valley Children's Hospital.

Despite taking comfort in lives she saved, her parents have yet to get justice for their loss.

The woman charged in the crash pleaded not guilty, by Zoom, in court on Friday.

Sara Spagnolini faces 6 years in prison if found guilty of felony vehicular manslaughter and misdemeanor driving on a suspended license.

Spagnolini was initially arraigned back in July of 2020 but because of the pandemic and several delays, the preliminary hearing didn't happen until two weeks ago.

Prosecutors say, based on priors, if convicted they want the court to find her ineligible for probation at sentencing.

"Most of her history is drug-related, dating back from the 1990s," says supervising deputy district attorney Candice Moore.

Spagnolini has another misdemeanor case for driving on a suspended license in September of 2021.

The jury trial setting for this case will be September 7th.