A candlelight vigil was held Thursday night in Rancho Cucamonga to mourn the death of a 9-year-old girl who was hit by a pickup truck while walking near her school the previous day.
The crash occurred at East Avenue and Banyan Street (map) — less than a block from Etiwanda Colony Elementary School — around 3 p.m. Wednesday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department announced Thursday.
“We’ve been so blessed to have her in our lives for the short amount of time we’ve had her,” the crying mother of 9-year-old Ashlyn Gardner told a crowd of mourners at the vigil.
Friends, teachers, family and strangers all gathered to mourn her at the site of the crash, where candles, balloons and stuffed animals lined the sidewalk.
Ashlyn and her 7-year-old brother Landon were crossing a marked crosswalk on East Avenue when the truck approached.
The driver, a 69-year-old man, was behind the wheel of a 2000 Ford F350 pickup truck and struck the siblings while making a left turn, authorities said.
Both children were taken to San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland, where Ashlyn was pronounced dead. Her brother Landon, who received less severe injuries, was quickly treated and released.
“I love her with all my heart, and I hope she’s OK,” Landon said at Thursday’s vigil.
The victim’s grandmother, Renae Starr said the collision appeared to be an accident, adding that she felt terribly for the driver, who was distraught.
She described Ashlyn as a “sweetheart.”
“When they talk about an angel, that’s really what she was,” Starr said.
Some parents were urging school officials to increase the number of crossing guards at the site. Etiwanda School District Superintendent Shawn Judson said there had never been a problem there before, but officials would “take a look.”
A fundraising website has been set up to pay for the child’s funeral expenses.
“No one anticipates the loss of a child, and no parent should ever have to pay for their child’s funeral costs,” the site states.
Authorities believe that the driver was neither intoxicated nor speeding during the incident, but they are continuing to investigate the collision.
Anyone with further information was asked to Deputy Robert Baxter at 909-477-2800 or Sgt. Phill Dupper at 909-477-2817.
KTLA’s Sara Welch, Rick Chambers and Melissa Pamer contributed to this report.