Dozens of parents and students took part in a candlelight vigil at a North Las Vegas school Saturday night on behalf of two young students struck by a truck at a crosswalk.
“It’s super easy to be the principal of a school when things are going well,” Principal Jessica Scobell said during the brief vigil on the football field of Somerset Academy, located at 4650 Losee Road.
“It’s really hard to get up here,” she trailed off, her voice overwhelmed for a moment as she held back tears before the crowd, “and speak to you all tonight.”
Somerset Academy’s Losee campus organized and announced the vigil on Facebook earlier Saturday.
Teachers at the vigil described both children as fighters and said they believe the children will pull through. One teacher said the 12-year-old boy is a hockey player. Another said the 9-year-old girl is a dancer and early leader among her young peers.
Scobell said the boy is “a little comedian” and keeps people laughing during lunch.
“We can’t wait to have that opportunity again,” she said.
On Friday, Scobell said she chatted with the girl during her class’ Valentine’s Day party.
“She gave me a valentine on my way out of the classroom,” Scobell said. “She’s fighting right now in the hospital.”
School staff arrived early to set up the vigil, held just after sunset. They passed out pink and green ribbons and equipped well-wishers with small candles.
By the time the vigil began, thousands of dollars had been raised through a GoFundMe fundraiser set up to benefit the 9-year-old girl, her 12-year-old brother and their family. Toward the end, school officials asked people to write the children encouraging notes on paper and envelopes provided at the event.
“It’s our hope that people will donate so that their last concern at this time is money, and they can be concerned with their kids and their family and everyone healing,” Scobell said.
As of Saturday night, the GoFundMe page had raised $8,367 to benefit the siblings and family, whose names aren’t mentioned.
‘Touch and go’
The siblings were crossing the street around 3:30 p.m. Friday in a marked crosswalk on Lone Mountain Road near Losee Road shortly after the school day ended, police said. They were taken to University Medical Center.
The girl, a fourth-grader, and the boy, a seventh-grader, remained in a fight for their lives at UMC.
Both children were still in critical condition and appeared to be “touch and go,” North Las Vegas Police Department spokesman Eric Leavitt said Saturday afternoon. He said officials will announce an update on the children’s conditions on Sunday.
Tracy Mason, a physical education aide at one of the seven Somerset campuses, worked with the 12-year-old boy when he was in the fifth grade. She came out Saturday after learning the news yesterday.
“You never want your kids to go through this,” she said.
School administrators said social workers will be on the Losee campus Tuesday, when students arrive after the holiday weekend. Scobell said the social workers will be available to listen and help any students, family, teachers and faculty struggling with the injuries to the two children.
The driver of the pickup truck — 47-year-old Mark Kline — was booked Friday into Las Vegas City Jail. He faces two counts of failure to use due care around pedestrians, one count of failure to give full time and attention to driving and one count of failure to maintain lane, police said late Friday night in a news release.
The children were struck where the Las Vegas Wash Regional Trail, which travels behind Somerset Academy, crosses Losee Road. The crosswalk markings are faint in the roadway, but there are warning lights pedestrians can activate before crossing the road to alert drivers.
The only sign of the crash on Saturday afternoon was the police chalk markings on the road next to a broken mechanical pencil, covered in pink hearts.
One parent said she has children who attend this Somerset campus and said drivers “don’t recognize this as a school zone.”
“This just shouldn’t have happened,” said the woman, who did not give her name.