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Girl, 11, in critical condition after being struck by van near Petaluma school

Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 4:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 4:37 p.m.

An 11-year-old girl suffered what police said were serious injuries Tuesday afternoon when she was struck by a van while crossing a street near her Petaluma elementary school.

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Officers inspect the scene of an accident where a young girl was hit by a van on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

By John O'Hara/ For the Argus-Courier

The 6th grader at McKinley School ran or walked quickly into Ellis Street outside of a crosswalk and was struck and run over by a white Ford van, police said.

She suffered serious injuries to her upper and lower body and was taken by ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where police said she was listed in critical condition.

Police do not believe her injuries were life-threatening.

Another girl who was crossing the street with her was not struck by the van, police said.

The accident occurred in front of McKinley School and was reported at 2:52 p.m., seven minutes after students at the school had been let out for the day.

A school crossing guard was on duty at the crosswalk on Ellis Street, near Martin Circle, but the girls entered the street a block south, near a school driveway where there is no designated crosswalk, said Lt. Tim Lyons of the Petaluma Police Department.

The van swerved in its lane but was unable to avoid one of the girls, Lyons said. The driver stopped and was cooperating with police. Lyons said there was no indication the driver was exceeding the posted 25 mph speed limit.

“There is no indication of fault by the driver,” he said.

The accident was witnessed by a number of students and parents and police said they received multiple calls reporting the collision.

McKinley Principal Matthew Harris was assisting the victim moments after she was struck, and school officials quickly called the girl's mother, said Jane Escobedo, assistant superintendent for the Petaluma City School District.

The girl's teacher accompanied her in the ambulance to the hospital and Harris drove her mother, who arrived at the school after the ambulance left.

Lyons said the girl is Spanish-speaking and that police interpreters were on scene interviewing witnesses.

McKinley has 233 students in grades four through six. Those who are picked up or walk home mostly leave from the front entrance on Ellis Street, Escobedo said.

The campus exit is located near the Ellis Street crosswalk. The crossing guard is the staff member charged with directing students to use the crosswalk, Escobedo said.

She did not say whether teachers or other staff members were in the area at the time.

She said the school would be evaluating its procedures as a matter of routine after a serious incident.

Parents were to be notified of the accident through either an automated phone call or some other communication, Escobedo said.

Counselors were also set to be available Wednesday for students if needed.

You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or brett.wilkison@pressdemocrat.com.

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