COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus police are searching for one of two vehicles that hit and killed an 11-year-old girl as she was walking to her bus stop in east Columbus Wednesday morning.
Family identified the child as 11-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzie” Robertson Rutland.
Emergency crews were called to McNaughten Road, north of E. Main Street, on the report of a pedestrian struck around 6:24 a.m.
Elizabeth’s grandmother, Audrey Napier, tells us Lizzie was walking down the busy stretch of road and tried to cross to get to her bus stop on the opposite side.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It’s a very, very shocking and sad time,” said Napier. “It’s very devastating to our family that we have to endure such a huge loss because Lizzie was our life.”
Lizzie was struck by two vehicles, but only one driver stopped, according to police.
Police said they do not have a description of the second vehicle.
Rutland was a 6th grader at Sherwood Middle School.
The family shared a photo of Rutland and her great-grandmother with NBC4 reporter Catherine Ross:
McNaughten Road was closed between E. Main Street and Cherry Hill Drive, while police investigated and cleared the scene, but has since reopened.
Now, Robertson’s family is mourning their vibrant little girl, and wondering how it all could have been prevented. They voiced concerns about other kids like Lizzie crossing the busy street without sidewalks or proper lighting.
“It’s OK to walk to school,” Napier said. “It’s OK to walk to a bus stop, but under these circumstances, I just feel like it’s unacceptable. No child should have to walk to the bus stop in the dark, or on a busy street, without adequate lighting, without adequate sidewalks. I mean to me, that’s unacceptable.”
Ohio state law delegates the placement of bus stops to district superintendents. They required to be approved before the start of each school year.
Students in K-8 can be asked to walk up to a half mile to a bus stop. Sidewalks and crosswalks are not required to be nearby.
Superintendent of Columbus City Schools, Dr. Dixon released the following statement.
“I extend my heartfelt condolences to the family of the student who passed in the tragic accident this morning. I also extend my sympathy to the students, staff, and families of Sherwood Middle School who are grieving at the news today. The District’s Care Team is at Sherwood to support our students and staff who are dealing with the sadness of this passing, and they will continue to be available throughout the week and beyond. We are one family in Columbus City Schools, and we will support our school community in its time of need. This tragedy is an unfortunate reminder that drivers need to be vigilant of students who are catching buses or walking to and from school. Every day we have several hundred buses on the roadways transporting tens of thousands of students. We all must practice safe driving habits, especially in the morning and afternoon hours. Safety should be everyone’s priority, and together we can ensure this type of tragedy does not occur again.”– Dr. Dixon.
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