INDIANAPOLIS — A few hundred mourners assembled outside an east Indianapolis school for a vigil in memory of a 7-year-old girl who was killed in a crash on Tuesday.
“This little one was doing what she had done countless times before the unthinkable happened,” Pastor Melody Merida of Downey Avenue Christian Church told the crowd gathered around the steps of IPS School 57 Wednesday night.
They had come to mourn 7-year-old Hannah Crutchfield, killed the day before, just hundreds of feet from the school where she attended.
Hannah and her mom, along with a school crossing guard, were in the crosswalk, crossing the street, when two cars that collided in the intersection of North Ritter Avenue and East Washington Street hit them.
Hannah died later at Riley Hospital for Children. Her mother and the crossing guard were taken to other area hospitals in critical condition.
Wednesday’s gathering was the kind of moment where parents pulled their kids a little closer, acutely aware of how fleeting life can be.
“I definitely wanted to grab my baby and squeeze her for sure,” said mom Brandy Ellinger, who brought her two children.
“My heart hurts for the family. I can’t even imagine what they’re feeling. What they’re going through. I can’t imagine,” added mom Kristin Armour, whose son attends IPS School 57.
“I thought about my babies and how I would feel as a mother and I just...my heart breaks for that mother,” Ellinger added.
In the crowd stood the injured crossing guard, Mike Sykes, wearing a sling.
He had no words, but what felt like an entire community had words of support for him.
“I would like to introduce Mike, the traffic guard who has kept all of our children so safe and we’re very thankful that you’re alive,” an organizer of the vigil told him.
Sykes, a parent himself, stood with his wife and three children, grieving along with the other parents and their children for the Crutchfield family.
“It just breaks my heart,” said Ellinger.
As of Thursday morning, a PayPal account collecting funds for the families has raised more than $17,000. Click here to donate.