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Girl, 6, dies in Phoenix car accident; brother, 8, was driving

August 30, 2013|By Matt Hamilton

An 8-year-old boy will likely not face criminal charges for driving and crashing his mother’s car, fatally injuring his 6-year-old sister who was riding in the passenger seat, police confirmed Friday.

The 24-year-old mother of the two children -- who reported her children missing minutes before the crash occurred Wednesday night -- will also not face criminal charges, but an investigation is ongoing, said Phoenix Police Department spokesman Sgt. Steve Martos.

“Based upon what we know right now, it’s not a criminal investigation,” Martos said.

Wednesday night was like any other for the young family: The children’s mother gave them a bath and tucked them in bed around 9:30 before turning in half an hour later, police said.

But the children’s grandmother drove by the family’s central Phoenix apartment, noticed the front door was open and called to alert her daughter, police said.

The mother awoke to find her children missing, and began knocking on neighbors’ doors, searching for the kids. She noticed her car -- a 2010 red Hyundai Elantra -- was gone and called police to report a possible kidnapping, Martos said.

The children, meanwhile, were on an apparent joyride around town.

Witnesses told police that the children obeyed traffic lights and kept a standard speed, but that the car bobbed and weaved on the roads, Martos said.

Two separate 911 calls came into the Phoenix Police Department reporting the red Elantra. One call reported children behind the wheel of a car; the second reported a hit-and-run in which the children crashed into a fence and fled the scene, Martos said.

Police officers spotted the red sedan and, still under the impression that the children were held by a kidnapper, turned on their overhead lights to pull over the car. The car then veered right and collided with a pole, Martos said.

“Officers went up to the vehicle expecting to see a suspect and two kids,” Martos said. “But much to their surprise, they see an 8-year-old boy in his pajamas ... and his sister.”

The girl, who has been identified as Aaliyah Felder, was offered immediate medical assistance and rushed to a Phoenix hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. The boy, whose name has not been released, suffered injuries to his ankle.

The girl was not wearing a seatbelt, and the airbag did not deploy, Martos said.

A makeshift memorial with pink stuffed animals and a princess balloon was on display Friday at the accident site, near the corner of 19th Avenue and Buckeye Road.

Counseling and assistance was offered to the boy and his mother by police and fire department staff, Martos said.


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Twitter: @MattHjourno

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