One year after a head-on collision killed a mother and daughter, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced it will not be filing criminal charges.
Diane Defenbaugh, 60, and her daughter Kathryn “Katy” Defenbaugh, 29, were killed on August 13, 2015. The two were driving along State Route 125 in the Bonita area of San Diego when they were hit head-on.
Angel Animal Hospital organized a memorial last week to honor the mother and daughter, who had both been veterinarians.
Family members say it was heartwarming to embrace the clients and friends of the women, but devastating to learn in that same visit, there would be no criminal charges filed.
Friends told NBC 7 that Diane and Katy Defenbaugh were not just mother and daughter but the best of friends. Their life work as veterinarians touched the lives of so many people.
Diane's brother-in-law Mark Malartsik spoke to NBC 7 over the phone from Illinois on Monday.
“We don't understand why it even happened. That is the hardest part about it,” Malartsik said, speaking of the accident that took the lives of both women.
The two women were on their way to SeaWorld San Diego to celebrate Katy's birthday when they were killed.
Kenneth Shaw, 27-year old at the time, had been driving northbound when he lost control and crossed into the southbound lanes of the freeway where he crashed head-on into the Defenbaugh’s car.
Malartsik says Shaw can't remember any of it and that the District Attorney does not enough evidence to make a criminal case.
“We lost two people who were a huge part of our family and we're going to miss them the rest of our lives. Then someone else gets to move on and still live a life,” Malartsik said.
Malartsik, says the DA's office only received the accident investigation in March and the deadline to file charges was August 13.
“To this day, a year later, to really not have any answers as to how this could have happened, it’s frustrating,” Malartsik said.
But the family's quest for answers won't end with the DA's decision. They sued Shaw in Civil Court where they might get a look at the investigation.
NBC 7 found that Shaw has since moved away from Spring Valley where he lived at the time of the crash and by most accounts, no longer lives in California.
The civil trial is set for February next year.