from the LA times
The woman in the sport utility vehicle looked one way. The child looked another. In an instant, a school crosswalk became a scene of horror.
A day after a Glendale sixth-grader was struck and killed in front of her mother and classmates, school officials, parents and students struggled to make sense of the tragedy Thursday.
Questions came more easily than answers -- even to the police investigating the driver, a mother who had just dropped off her own child.
"How come the student didn't stop or get out of the way or see the car coming," asked Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz. "As fate would have it, she too was looking in the wrong direction."
Her mother, Lilit, dropped Meri off at school moments before the accident. She called her daughter "an angel."
Meri's father, Grigor, has returned repeatedly to the crosswalk where the eldest of the family's two daughters lighted candles and lay flowers.
"When we remember Meri, we envision a bright, luminous smile covering her face. She was the embodiment of innocence and purity for us. Now we drown in tears of sorrow," her family said in a statement.
Inside the foyer of the school, Meri's classmates -- some in tears -- scribbled notes on a large, pink poster.
"Dear Meri, you are and always will be my best friend," one girl wrote. "We ♥ u so much. I hope you are watching us in heaven!"
The first poster was already so full by midmorning that another blank board had to be added.
Principal Paula Nelson said Meri's death was a reminder to parents "to slow down, leave 15 minutes earlier and stop."
She said parents should "be defensive drivers and tell their children to be defensive walkers."
After Meri was hit about 8 a.m. by a sport utility vehicle, she was taken to Glendale Adventist Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
A number of children witnessed the accident, but Nelson said she wasn't sure how many.
She said more than 20 children have met with grief counselors.
All classes spent first period talking about the accident, with students sharing their thoughts. Sixth-graders wrote essays about Meri and drew pictures.
Nelson remembered how excited Meri was to be starting middle school and how enthusiastically she participated in lunchtime activities, such as balloon tosses.
"It was so devastating to me," the principal said. "She was a wonderful bright spot."