Girl, 5, dies after being hit by car on Normandy Boulevard

Teenage driver devasted by accident, mother says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 5-year-old girl died after being struck by a car while crossing Normandy Boulevard with her father and brother Friday afternoon, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The crash happened at Hammond Boulevard at about 3:30 p.m.

State troopers said Ava May Taranto had been walking side by side with her dad, Joseph Harrington, and 9-year-old brother Aaron but went ahead of them, and as her dad reached for her she was hit by the car.

The girl was taken to a hospital, where she died. Her dad, who was also hit, was taken to UF Health Jacksonville.

"They were crossing in an area that's not designed for pedestrian traffic," FHP Sgt. Dylan Bryan said.

Troopers said the driver, 18-year-old Daizha Tiara Wright, stopped at the scene and was not hurt.

Wright graduated from Atlantic Coast High School on Monday and was on her way to work when the accident happened, said her mother, Crystal Wright.

She said her daughter is devastated by the tragedy.

"She was in tears, just crying," Crystal Wright said. "(She was) just getting gas on her way to work, and evidently the baby ran out in front of the car."

Troopers said no charges have been filed but the investigation is ongoing. They said it doesn't appear speed was a factor.

"She saw the girl was holding the hand of the dad or brother, I'm not sure which one, and she was coming up the street and began to brake, because she saw the baby," Crystal Wright said. "And the harder she braked, the baby was still coming across the road. So evidently she couldn't avoid hitting her."

Wright said her daughter took a job at a Winn-Dixie close to their home so she didn't have to drive far and added that Daizha is a very cautious driver.

Witness Kevin Boston said he couldn't believe the tragic scene on Normandy Boulevard on Friday.

"Little baby, she was laying in the middle of the street, covered in blood and all," Boston said. "I started praying for her and started praying for her dad, who appeared to be very, very upset, as any father would. I have a little daughter so that bothered me the most."

Investigators warn pedestrians that this is a horrific example of why it's so important to cross in a crosswalk.

"What's important is that we utilize safety equipment that's established for our pedestrians," Bryan said, "but also follow Florida statute."

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