Toddler dies from injuries after being run over by minivan

Kyle Hopkins

A mother unknowingly ran over her 1-year-old daughter with a minivan, killing the girl Monday afternoon just a few feet outside the family's East Anchorage trailer home, police say.

Doctors pronounced Vanessa Thao, born in late 2010, dead at an Anchorage hospital, said Lt. Dave Parker, a police spokesman.

The accident was reported 3:12 p.m. at Rangeview Trailer Court, 705 Muldoon Road. The girl's mother was preparing to drive her own mother to an appointment when she began to leave the dusty family driveway in a Toyota Sienna minivan, police say.

The mother, whom police have not publicly identified, thought her toddler was safe inside the mobile home with family, Parker said. Family members inside the home didn't realize Vanessa -- old enough to walk -- had followed her mother outside, he said.

Traffic investigator Michael Busey saw no sign that the minivan knocked the girl down, and found no skid marks indicating a high rate of speed. The van may simply have run over the girl, police said.

Neighbor Jennifer Her, 19, said she once worked with the toddler's mother at a nearby McDonald's.

The co-workers are both Hmong and had children about the same age, Her said. The other woman seemed sweet but shy, she said. "I believe she's a good mother."

There is no indication the mother had been drinking, Parker said. "Every indication was that this was just a tragic accident."

A police officer traveled with the injured girl to the hospital, aiding with CPR, the police spokesman said. Medics tried to revive the girl for about 40 minutes before she was pronounced dead at Providence Alaska Medical Center, he said.

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