PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The parents of a teenage girl who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing a street in Portland, Oregon, say they are having a hard time dealing with the fact that the suspect has disappeared and may have been helped by the government of Saudi Arabia.
Fifteen-year-old Fallon Smart was struck Aug. 19, 2016. Police say the vehicle was driven by Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, a Saudi who was charged with manslaughter, reckless driving and other crimes. The government of Saudi Arabia posted the then 21-year-old's bail.
Federal law enforcement officials believe the Saudi government then helped him escape the country.
Fallon's father, Seth Smart, told The Oregonian/OregonLive the family's lives have been "forever changed."
"The imagination runs wild," he told the newspaper. "Is he just leading his normal life somewhere? Does he even think about it? Does he even care?"
The case has generated international headlines, and Oregon's U.S. senators are seeking answers on Capitol Hill.
In their first interview since her death, Fallon's parents grieved the loss of the daughter they described as gentle and generous. They also grappled with how their family's personal tragedy carried political implications between the U.S. and a longstanding ally in the Middle East.
"It almost feels like you're reading the plot of an intrigue novel," said Fallon's mother, Fawn Lengvenis. "It's hard to believe that it's part of your reality."
Fallon's parents were surprised — and concerned — when the young Saudi student posted bail.
Fahad Nazer, a spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C., has previously said that, as a policy, the Saudi government will cover the cost of bail for any citizen jailed in the U.S. who asks for assistance.
Noorah was placed under house arrest while his trial approached. Then he vanished.
Smart doesn't believe the man accused of killing his daughter will ever face a trial.
"I'm not very hopeful," he said. "I don't think Mr. Noorah is coming back to the United States."