Crash killed 1 student in Ceres, injures 3

CERES, Calif.

Ceres Police say one little girl died at the scene, and two others remain in the hospital.

The crash happened as the eighth graders were walking across an intersection to Mae Hensley Junior High School Wednesday morning in Ceres.

Children and their parents have been coming to this intersection where the crash happened all day long, leaving flowers, cards, and stuffed animals. School administrators are calling this one of the worst tragedies in the city's history.

Witnesses who saw the aftermath of the crash describe a horrific scene. One little girl dead, three injured, and several shocked students standing nearby.

Witness, Robert Gilmore described what he saw, "The whole street was full of rescue vehicles, and there were four or five ambulances. Med flight landed out here in the school, and they took one of the girls off."

The four eighth grade girls were heading to this nearby junior high at the time of the crash. The school district notified parents through an automatic phone call within 15 minutes of the tragedy, and hundreds showed up to take their children home.

Melinda Haley said, "It's awful, I'm so sorry for the families. I'm really sorry; I wouldn't want to be in that situation. It's awful."

Desire Haley said, "All my friends were crying earlier, and it made me feel like sad."

Ceres Police say it appears the driver of the raised Chevy truck ran a stop sign as the girls were crossing the street. He's been cooperative with investigators, but they're still trying to figure out the circumstances surrounding the crash.

Sgt. Jose Berber said, "We received several eye witness accounts that either he was on the cell phone or had some type of ear phones on, however investigators have not eliminated or confirmed that."

Now the district is offering counseling services as this community tries to cope with a devastating loss.

Jay Simmonds said, "It is absolutely one of the worst tragedies we've had, and so it's just shocking and we're still trying to figure out ... our prayers go out to the families and our goal is to do everything we can to support them and support the kids through this process."

The names of the driver and the little girls are not being released at this time.

One of the victims only suffered minor injuries and was released at the scene. Another was flown to U.C. Davis Medical Center and is listed in stable, but critical condition. The other is in stable condition at a hospital in Modesto.

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