Driver suspected in deadly 2020 Stockdale Highway hit-and-run pleads not guilty

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The driver suspected of fleeing the scene of a deadly collision last year on Stockdale Highway pleaded not guilty to charges against her.

Police said officers arrested Stephanie Heninger, 42, on Friday. A Nissan Sentra suspected to have been involved in the collision was found in Riverside County and is in police possession, the department said.

The collision killed Debbie Geneau of Bakersfield. A $75,000 reward had been offered for information leading to an arrest.

“My family will never be the same,” said Geneau’s daughter Dawn Elliott. “My mom was my best friend. I miss her,” she continued.

Elliott said she made a promise to her 13-year-old son back in July that driver would be captured, but nine months later, she was starting to give up. Then, on Friday, BPD announced officers arrested Heninger in Bakersfield and seized her vehicle in Riverside County.

“I really would like to give a huge thank you to all of BPD and all of their efforts in finding this woman. It really so much to myself and the entire family,” Elliott continued.

Debbie’s husband, Rick, and their two granddaughters echoed a similar sentiment in front of the courthouse today.

“It’s another step toward some closure,” Rick said. “We won’t go the rest of our lives wondering who this was. So it’s a good day.”

Matt Clark, an attorney representing the Geneau family, released the following statement after the announcement of the arrest:

“On behalf of the Geneau family I want to extend their sincerest thank you to BPD, and especially officer Chad Ott. It is a direct result of Officer Ott’s persistence and tenaciousness that a suspect has been brought to justice.”

Heninger faces vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run charges and is due in court on June 2. Her bail is set at $100,000.

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