Translator helps cops solve case | VailDaily.com
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Translator helps cops solve case

Dawn Witlin
Vail, CO Colorado

AVON, Colorado – When Lizbeht Arana immigrated to America from Chihuahua, Mexico, two years ago, she had a tough time learning English.

“My first few years here were really hard,” the Eagle woman said. “I hardly understood anything.”

Arana, a special education teacher’s assistant at Berry Creek Elementary School in Edwards, cleaned hotel rooms throughout Eagle County while learning English. Arana said she jumped at the chance to help Avon police investigate a case of child abuse alleged by a student in her class.



“I remember when I came here, sometimes I need someone to help me to understand English, so I wanted to help,” said Arana.

On May 28, a student at Berry Creek Elementary School told police he was suffering abuse at the hands of his step-father in Avon, police said.



At the time, police couldn’t investigate the young boy’s claims because his family didn’t speak English.

“We do have a couple of Spanish speaking officers, but they weren’t on duty at the time,” said Avon Police Officer Phillip Florio. “She just said ‘Yeah, not a problem,’ and I was like, ‘Great!'”

Florio said Arana traveled with him to several locations in Eagle well into that evening translating for the child’s family members.



“(Arana) made my job a lot easier by interpreting for us,” said Florio. “I just wish more people would step up without us having to ask, like she did.”

Police and child welfare services determined the child abuse claims to be false and no arrests were made in the case, Florio said.

“The outcome turned out to be that the child was doing it more for attention from the parents,” said Florio.

On Tuesday, the Avon Police Department presented Arana and three other locals with the Chief’s Community Partnership Award for their volunteer work.

Arana said her actions were fueled by an affinity for Hispanic people who aren’t fluent in English.

“I like to help my people, the Hispanic people, because I have a hard time when I don’t know English,” said Arana. “I like to help people every time in my country.”

Police also gave awards to Hope Flores, Susan Bruno and Karen Peck for their time in organizing National Night Out parties in Wildridge, Eaglebend and the Aspens.

Dawn Witlin can be reached at (970) 748-2931 or dwitlin@vaildaily.com


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