A very tragic incident took place on Wednesday when a young woman in a Jeep Cherokee drove through a chain-link fence around a playground at Imagination Station Learning Center in Arcadia. The 18-year-old hit two children and the vehicle only came to a halt after hitting a tree.
Both the children were transferred to DeSoto Memorial Hospital, where 4-year-old Maleena Valdez succumbed to her injuries. The other child is in a critical condition.
One of the witnesses of the horrific incident, Becky Stidham, told WINK: “Kids screaming and I said, ‘Well, it could be coming from our pool,’ but it was so many screams of so many kids and everything that I thought, well, you know, there’s no way it could be coming from the pool.”
According to ABC affiliate WFTS, the woman behind the vehicle was identified as Kiara Morant from Tampa. As she didn’t produce a valid driver’s licence, Morant was taken into custody but was released shortly after. However, authorities said it happened before little Maleena died. As for now, as the investigation is ongoing, Morant will face additional charges in connection with the child’s death.
Maleena’s family was left utterly heartbroken. They couldn’t believe their little angel was taken from them.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help the family with the funeral expenses.
“She was the light of our lives and she will desperately be missed by all who loved her. She was a sassy, kind, funny little girl who loved her big sissy and mommy and daddy more than anything in this world! Maleena was so innocent and pure-hearted! She still had so much life to live!” the GoFundMe page read.
“Due to these unforeseen circumstances her Mother will be out of work for some time to mourn the loss of her sweet baby girl and we all know that bills do not stop, and on top of it, funeral costs will also now be added to the everyday stuff that was already present before this horrible tragedy.” It added that Maleena’s mother, Savannah, had another child to take care of.
“We are asking for any help to alleviate even a piece of the burden for her family so that they can take this time to be together and mourn without added stress. Please continue to pray for Maleena’s mother Savannah, Father Miguel, sister Jazziah and the rest of the family and friends, and that justice will be served in this unspeakable tragedy.”
Rest in peace, sweet angel.