Woman arrested in connection with hit-and-run crash that killed girl, injured another

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV learned a Volusia County woman was arrested on Tuesday in connection to a hit-and-run crash that killed a teen girl earlier this year.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers told WFTV's Lori Brown that 50-year-old Danielle Halverson hit two 14-year-old girls in March. Juliana Hobbs died in the street next her best friend Rachel Russell, who was injured.

Troopers said Halverson then took off, leaving the girls on the side of the road.

Two days after the crash on South Spring Garden Avenue, Halverson told investigators she was trying to reach for a cellphone.

"These girls never saw what was coming," said FHP Sgt. Kim Montes.

While Halverson called to tell the Florida Highway Patrol that her car was involved in the crash, and initially admitted to being behind the wheel, she later denied that she was driving her Toyota Corolla that investigators matched to the scene.

Seven months later, the families of Russell and Hobbs finally got the arrest they were waiting for.

"I'm so happy. A weight has been lifted off my shoulder," said Courtney Hobbs, Julianna Hobbs' sister.

Barbara Russell said her daughter is not the same after losing her best friend. A friend she'd had since kindergarten.

"She just had her birthday, and Julianna wasn't there to share it with her, so that was extremely sad for her. She misses her friend. She was her best friend," said Barbara Russell, Rachel Russell's mother.

Since Halverson later denied being behind the wheel, investigators said it took seven months to build up their case so it will hold up in court.

"She could have put a lot of heartache behind a lot sooner," said Barbara Russell.

Halverson is facing up to 30 years in prison, if she's convicted. Halverson is facing two counts of hit-and-run, but not vehicular homicide.

FHP said that is because the victims were walking with their backs to the traffic.