Dajeianna Smith, 12, was hit by a pickup truck Wednesday while walking along the side of County Road 108 in Elkhart County around 4:45 p.m. She was airlifted to Memorial Hospital in critical condition with injuries to her head and chest and died Thursday morning.
Smith was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m. St. Joseph County Coroner Randy Magdalinski said Smith died from severe head trauma and there won't be an autopsy.
Elkhart County Sheriff's deputies said Norman Yeaky, 56, of Edwardsburg, Mich., was driving westbound on C.R. 108 when the front passenger side of his pickup hit Dajeianna causing her to fly over his vehicle and become tangled in a fence. He told investigators he didn't see her.
Medics rushed Dajeianna to Elkhart Municipal Airport where MedFlight took her to Memorial's Leighton Trauma Center.
Deputies initially struggled to identify Dajeianna and unsuccessfully canvassed the neighborhood to search for her parents. Around 6:30 p.m. Dajeianna's younger brother walked up to a NewsCenter 16 reporter and said it was his sister who was hit. Investigators spoke with the boy and other family members who later arrived at the scene to positively identify Dajeianna.
Family members told NewsCenter 16 she was walking home from a nearby park when she was hit by Yeaky's 1997 Ford Ranger.
Neighbors said many pedestrians use County Road 108 to walk to Woodland Elementary and Elkhart Memorial High School even though the road does not have sidewalks. They often complain about drivers exceeding the posted 30 mph speed limit and have been concerned about the possibility of an accident.
"It's supposed to be a 30 mph speed limit. We estimate most traffic down here 50 to 60 mph, 40 mph plus anyway and the police actually were monitoring the speed at the end of the winter time here," said Steven Pressler, who lives near the accident site. "It worked for about a month then they're back to their old ways again.
Elkhart's Fatal Alcohol Crash Team is investigating the accident, although neither alcohol nor drugs are believed to be involved. It is unknown whether speed or distracted driving was a factor. Yeaky is not yet facing any criminal action, although a news release from the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department indicates the investigation is still ongoing.