Walking home with friends, girl, 5, hit and killed by car

PORTLAND, Ore. - A 5-year-old girl on her way home from a family friend's house was hit and killed by a car Thursday night while trying to cross the street with two other children, according to Portland police.

Morgan Maynard-Cook was hit at Southeast 136th Avenue and Ellis Street just after 7 p.m., police said.

Zach Peterson, 13, was holding the hands of Morgan and his niece while they walked across 136th Avenue across from Morgan's home.

A car stopped for them but Morgan, thinking there were no other cars coming, bolted from Peterson's hand. She was hit by a four-door Suzuki Sidekick driven by a 69-year-old woman who couldn't stop in time, said Lt. Chris Davis with the Portland Police Bureau.

"I said, 'No Morgan, wait!" Peterson said. "And a car smacked into her. I saw her go into the hood, and then she flew across the street and landed in the dirt. So I ran over across the street, told my niece to wait on the other side of the street, dropped all my stuff and carried her to (her) house."

Morgan's sister called 911, Davis said.

Police said Morgan died on the way to the hospital.

Morgan's mother, Connie Ruiz, said Morgan was the youngest of seven children and was a kindergartner at Gilbert Park Elementary School.

She described her daughter as funny and smart. "She was so clever and curious and full of life," she said.

Ruiz was still in shock late Thursday night and the tragedy hadn't yet sunk in.

"I don't know what to feel or think. It doesn't seem real," she said.

Ruiz said the area is dangerous and hopes the city will put in a crosswalk and a light. "I'm hoping, really hoping, that the city of whoever is responsible can possibly take a look at putting in a crosswalk, or even a light in. It's very dangerous. There's kids up and down the road all day long."

The Traffic Division's Major Crash Team investigated the crash. Police said the driver remained at the scene and cooperated. Traffic was blocked in the area as police conducted their investigation.

Davis said there is no indication that drugs or alcohol were involved, and it is believed the driver was driving at or below the speed limit.

This version corrects the age of the girl to 5 instead of 4.

Statement from Portland Mayor Charlie Hales

My heart goes out to the family of Morgan. As a parent, I can find no words that are sufficient to describe this horrible occurrence.

My thoughts also are with the Portland Police officers who responded last night. Each of them has family, too, and each is affected by such tragedies in different ways.

Safety throughout the city has to be our first priority. I have been at work fewer than 60 days, and so far the city of Portland has experienced eight automobile-related fatalities, four of which were pedestrian deaths.

There has been a lot of talk of late about paving streets, and about sidewalks and crosswalks throughout our city. There has been a lot of talk about the backlog of projects, and about how to pay for these core responsibilities. As always, public safety has to be our North Star, guiding all of our decisions in every part of the city.

We will work through these decisions together, as involved citizens, as elected officials, as city employees, as residents of Portland, and as people who are holding our families a little bit tighter today.