Neighborhood holds vigil for sisters hit while crossing the street

A Mishawaka girl is dead, her sister in critical condition, after being hit by a car crossing the street.

Four-year-old Shyla Aston died Friday, and 6-year-old Shianna Aston is still in the hospital.

They were hit just after 7 Thursday night. They were crossing the street -- hand in hand -- on the way to a friend's house, when a car driven by 56-year-old Leroy Hoover hit the girls, running them over.

Witnesses say Hoover tried to take off but a neighbor held him at gunpoint until police got there.

"He hit the gas and was attempting to flee the scene and that's when I jumped out in front and stopped him at gunpoint," said Alan Knepp. "Took his keys from him and told him he wasn't going anywhere."

Several witnesses say speed was a factor, and the girls looked both ways before crossing the street.

Neighbors in this tight-knit neighborhood, returned to the scene Friday night for a vigil, to remember little Shyla and pray that Shianna pulls through.

It wasn't unlike any other spring night in the neighborhood. The street was full of children, but gone was the carefree feeling they had long enjoyed.

"You never know how close death is to you," said Jasmine Anderson, who attended the vigil. "I mean one little girl she didn't even make it to kindergarten, and the other girl was six, and she's still alive but it just wasn't fair to them."

And to pay tribute to them, young and old left symbols of their love and sympathy: flowers, stuffed animals. There were candles, too -- for the newest shining light in heaven, another, a symbol of hope for the soul they hope won't yet be taken.

"I hope her older sister survives in the hospital," said Brianna Swank, another child who attended the vigil.

And while she's shocked by what happened here the night before, she's not at all surprised by the scene here on this night.

"They care about other people," said Brianna. "Not just their family and friends, but other people in the neighborhood."

A neighborhood united by grief and galvanized by anger.

Mary Johnston, who calls her self the neighborhood mom, organized the vigil.

"He took two babies. He hurt two babies. He was speeding, he took two babies," said Mary. "They need to put speed bumps here."

Johnston says it may be too late to save the life of one child, but not others.

"The speed limit's 30, but they don't go 30," said Mary. "They go faster. Everyone says slow down."

And while Mary and others decide how they'll go about slowing down traffic in their neighborhood in the days and nights to come, for one night, traffic and time along this hallowed patch of pavement stood still.

The St. Joe County Fatal Alcohol Crash Team is investigating. The results of toxicology tests on the driver won't be back for three or four weeks.

For now, he's not facing any charges.


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