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4-year-old girl dies after being struck by SUV

Devin Kelly

A 4-year-old girl who was struck by an SUV while riding her bike in a South Anchorage mobile home park died of her injuries Friday night, police said.

The girl, Ashley Xiong, was riding a two-wheeled bicycle in the middle of a road in the Dimond Estates Mobile Home Park about 6:16 p.m. Friday when a Toyota Highlander turned a corner and hit her, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said in a statement.

The driver of the Highlander, 46-year-old Her Thao, stayed at the scene and cooperated with authorities, police said. Police are continuing to investigate but alcohol or drugs do not appear to be a factor in the crash, and no citations have been issued, according to Shell. It is not known how fast Thao was driving at the time.

Elijah Joe, 10, lives in the neighborhood and said his younger sister was friends with Ashley. He was trout fishing in Campbell Creek when a friend called to tell him about the accident. He jumped on his bike and rode to the scene of the crash. Interviewed before police confirmed Ashley's death, Joe said all the neighborhood children were talking about what had happened.

"It spooked everybody in the trailer court," Joe said.

Joe's friend, 13-year-old Darby Murphy, says he and his friends usually try to bike as fast as they can in the park.

"Now we're going to go as slow as we can," Murphy said.

Ashley was not wearing a bike helmet and sustained head trauma, Shell said. Ashley was taken in an ambulance to a local hospital and pronounced dead at 9 p.m. Friday.

In a community statement issued Saturday, police warned motorists to be cautious in neighborhoods where young children are playing. Shell said the investigating officer on the scene Friday saw a lot of children riding bikes in the neighborhood, and none of them were wearing bike helmets. Under municipal ordinance, children aged 15 and younger are required to wear a helmet in public places, Shell said. A first offense comes with a warning, and each subsequent offense carries a fine of $25.

Shell said it's not clear how much of a difference a helmet would have made in Friday's accident -- "It's a pretty big vehicle and a pretty small child." But, she said, it is the law.

"Maybe we can save a kid's life, or at least (prevent) a traumatic brain injury," Shell said.

Reach Devin Kelly at dkelly@adn.com or 257-4314.


By DEVIN KELLY
dkelly@adn.com