BATTLE GROUND, Wash. – Hundreds gathered at Word of Grace Bible Church here Saturday, Jan. 25 to mourn the passing of two Christian women who were killed in a hit-and-run collision the previous Sunday in Vancouver.
As reported by The Columbian newspaper of Vancouver and other area media, police said Irina Gardinant and Raisa Mosh — both immigrants from Moldova — were walking in a crosswalk across Northeast Vancouver Mall Drive around 8 p.m. on Jan. 19 when they were struck by a white pickup. Police said the truck had made a quick left turn from Northeast 72nd onto the drive, and that the occupants of the pickup left the scene after the women were struck.
Mosh, 45, died there, leaving behind a husband four children. Gardinant, 28, was taken to a local hospital with critical injuries but was later pronounced dead. She is survived by a husband and 2-year-old daughter.
One of Mosh’s four children, a 12-year-old son, was with her at the time and suffered minor injuries in the accident.
On Jan. 29, the suspected driver in the hit-and-run was arrested. Brandon Smith, 27, turned himself in to police with his attorney present. He was booked into the Clark County Jail on two counts of vehicular homicide, three counts of hit-and-run, one count of vehicular assault and one count of tampering with evidence.
Smith’s live-in girlfriend, Kalista Andino, 21, and his mother, Linda Diann Smith, 63., were both arrested five days earlier for their alleged involvement in the case, and Smith’s 5-month-old baby was temporarily taken into protective custody.
Andino was charged with one count of witness tampering; prosecutors said she was a passenger in Smith’s truck and failed to report the accident.
KGW Channel 8 News reported that a police search warrant stated that Andino told a neighbor that Smith is an alcoholic who frequently drives under the influence.
The warrant also outlined police obtained DNA from the suspected driver, a computer, and a receipt for groceries purchased at a nearby store just prior to the accident..
Smith’s mother was also charged with witness tampering. She allegedly called witnesses and urged them not to speak with investigators.
Andino and Linda Smith both posted bail and were released; Andina was ordered not to have any contact with Smith, his family or the victims’ family members, while Smith was ordered not to have any contact with Andina, the victims’ families or her son, Brandon.
Mosh and Gardinant were leaving a baby shower at the time of the accident. They were active members of First Slavic Baptist Church “Emmanuel” in Vancouver. Mosh and three of her children, including the son who was with her at the time of the accident, were part of the church choir. Gardinant was a Sunday school teacher.
Those attending the memorial were urged to look to their faith to find comfort in the tragedy. Photos displayed at the memorial service showed key points of the women’s lives — their weddings, travels, and families. A choir presented worship songs between tributes from the victims’ family members and friends. Most of the eulogies were translated from Russian to English.
Gardinant’s father, his grief evident, spoke how it was difficult for him to part with his daughter when she moved to America in 2012 but that she had spoken by phone with her parents since then for hours each day.
Mosh’s younger brother said he was thankful for Vancouver Police’s efforts to solve the hit-and-run case, and said his family did not hold bitterness toward those involved but wanted them to answer to legal authorities.