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Police: Driver in fatal collision with girl on bicycle was using cellphone

Tegan Hanlon

A 47-year-old woman was arrested and charged Friday with criminally negligent homicide in the death of 4-year-old Ashley Xiong, according to Anchorage police.

On May 9, Xiong and two older sisters were riding bicycles near the intersection of Garnett Street and Turquoise Street in Dimond Estates Mobile Home Park. Police say Her Thao was talking on her cellphone while driving her Toyota SUV when she turned left on Turquoise Street and hit the girl, according to court documents filed by the prosecution.

Thao told police she saw one girl pedal across Garnett Street when she heard a noise under the SUV and hit the brakes. She initially denied using her cellphone, saying she had previously been talking to her daughter, who lives in California, but she hung up before she reached the intersection, documents say.

Police seized Thao’s cellphone and discovered her phone call ended seconds after the first call came in to 911 at 6:16 p.m., documents say.

The girl's sisters were crying near the intersection and told police that she was in the middle of the road when she was hit. A witness said the Toyota was driving over the speed limit, though Thao maintained she was driving 15 mph. The child was not wearing a helmet but court documents say it would not have mattered.

Thao remained on scene after the crash. Police found the girl lying unconscious on her back in the road. She died at a hospital. 

Thao posted $1,500 bail Friday. If found guilty, she faces up to four years in jail. Her next court date has not been set.