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Orange County

No Charges Likely in Tot's Death

Probe: Driver returns to where autistic girl was hit in 'a tragic accident, not a crime,' police say.

July 01, 2002|JEFF GOTTLIEB | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The driver of a sport utility vehicle that struck and killed a 5-year-old autistic girl near her Laguna Niguel home probably will not be charged, authorities said Sunday.

Early reports called the accident a hit and run. But Orange County sheriff's Lt. Greg Russell said it appears that the driver returned to the scene. He said investigators still are checking the vehicle. "If it does turn out this is the vehicle, then the person did return to the scene," Russell said.

Because Myla Richard stepped into traffic from a center island on Crown Valley Parkway, near Moulton Parkway, the driver would not be charged. Russell called the incident "a tragic accident, not a crime."

Myla slipped out of her house through a dog door Friday night, wearing only a diaper. She climbed over a 2-foot block wall, opened a wooden gate and walked down a 100-foot slope covered with ice plant and shrubs.

Myla crossed three lanes of Crown Valley to get to the traffic island. Several drivers stopped their cars when they saw her. An animal control officer stopped, turned on her vehicle's flashing lights and tried to reach Myla.

Instead, the child put her hands over her ears and stepped into traffic heading the opposite direction. She was struck by an SUV and thrown about 50 feet.

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