Young girl struck and killed in East Palo Alto

6-year-old Sioreli Torres hit by a car in EPA
September 28, 2011 6:34:14 PM PDT
Police are investigating two separate, fatal accidents just one block apart in East Palo Alto. In one of those accidents, a 6-year-old girl was killed while walking to school with her mother.

Shock is rippling through East Palo Alto, after a 6-year-old girl was hit and killed in a crosswalk on her way to school, by a teacher.

The girl was 6-year-old Sioreli Torres. A memorial at the intersection of Bay Road and Gloria Way marks the place where the little girl's life was cut short.

"It was a little girl that died here today and everybody is grieving. Nobody knows the pain that everyone is going though," said Evita Flores, a family friend.

The second grader was in the crosswalk shortly after 8 o'clock Wednesday morning. She was on her way to Green Oaks Academy when a teacher driving to a different school struck and killed her.

"I knew that I seen the child's shoe fly off and leave her body as she was hitting the pavement," said Maggie McDuffy, a witness.

The mother was just a few feet behind Sioreli holding the hands of her other two daughters.

"The mother stopped shocked, 'Oh my God,' I don't know," said Geovany Mancia, a witness.

A priest said a prayer over the girl's body before the coroner's office took her away. A friend of the driver says the teacher was also in shock.

"I came over here and hugged her and let her know everything was OK. She knows that it wasn't her fault. That's all I've got to say," said Jermaine Garner, a friend of the driver.

The tragedy though happened in the crosswalk and many are asking if the driver was going too fast or not paying attention.

"How can they hit a child that is crossing the street to go to school? Of course I am upset," said Lucy Vasquez, a witness.

There was also a fatal accident just a block away that could have diverted even more traffic onto Bay Road, adding to the confusion. It's also possible the sun temporarily blinded the driver.

"We're still investigating it. We're still considering all factors or possibly contributing factors, to why the driver didn't see the child," said East Palo Alto Officer Veronica Barries.

For the school district it is a double tragedy, a little girl has died and a teacher was involved.

"No words, there's nothing right now. I can't speak about it, not because I don't want to, it's just too much, too much to comprehend right now," said Saree Mading, a school district board member.

It has been an emotional and devastating day. Police questioned and released the driver.

Family friends say Sioreli would have turned 7 years old on Sunday.

The first accident happened at 5:30 a.m. when a car trying to get away from police hit and killed a man on a motorcycle. While police investigated that scene, police blocked off several streets in the area -- creating confusion for people trying to get to work and school. Residents can't help but wonder if that played a role in the death of the girl. Three men were arrested who were inside the SUV that struck the motorcycle.

ABC7's Amy Hollyfield contributed to this report.

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