A teen accused in a fatal "skip day" crash who now faces vehicular manslaughter charges spoke Monday, about life since the accident that took her friend's life.
"I miss her every single day," Cristina Pavon-Baker said. "I honestly wish it was me instead of her. I just don't know how - I can't express how sorry I am that the whole accident happened."
Cristina Pavon-Baker, who was 17 at the time of the crash, was charged with first-degree vehicular manslaughter in the death of her 18-year-old friend Makayla Penn who was riding as a passenger in Pavon-Baker's Mini Cooper. According to the District Attorney's office, Pavon-Baker was using the social media app Snapchat while driving over 100 mph down an exit ramp from I-75 near Jonesboro Road.
Pavon-Baker left the road and crashed, leaving her friend trapped inside the car. Penn died at the scene - a time that the recently indicted driver remembers well.
"The second the car stopped, I called her name and called her name, then I went and put my hands around her face," she said.
But Pavon-Baker's attorney took issue for some of the allegations lodged against his client - particularly the district attorney's claim that she was using Snapchat.
"Let me tell you right now - let me let everyone know that at no time - at no time - while she was driving her vehicle that day was she ever on Snapchat," he said. "The government will never be able to show a single iota piece of evidence that my client was Snapchatting. Will never be shown - it did not happen."
He also said that it would be up to the state to prove her speed and said that his driver was not driving recklessly. Citing dozens of accidents, he said the main contributing factor to the accident was the poorly-marked exit.
"Regardless of the speed, whether it be 50 mph - because if you've got 63 accidents here, I promise you, everybody wasn't doing 80 mph or 70 mph," he said. "It's simply just a sharp curve that, at the last minute, you will lose control because you don't realize it's a complete circle almost."
He said that warning signs were added later that could have saved his client's friend had they been in place sooner.
Georgia Department of Transportation spokesperson Natalie Dale confirmed that the state added signage to increase the visibility of the curve and emphasize speed limit. Morrow Police said no crashes have been reported since the new signs were put up.
Penn and Pavon-Baker were both students at Community Christian School but were not in class because of what students call a "senior skip day." Shortly after the accident, the school's Headmaster Fred Banke said it's really an excused absence where the senior class has the freedom to do things like college visits.
Community Christian School posted a picture of Penn calling her a "beautiful life" with the bible verse John 16:33. Under the picture are more than a hundred of messages of love and support.
Pavon-Baker's attorney said that the decision to have his client speak had nothing to do with her recent indictment just days earlier and was only an opportunity to show his client is a person - and remorseful for the accident that now haunts her.
"We simply want to show today that Cristina is simply remorseful - she was remorseful from the day of this accident," her attorney said.
He said her family had attempted to reach out to Penn's family since the accident and wanted to go to the funeral but wasn't allowed.