NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. - An 11-month-old girl was killed and two of her family members were injured Sunday morning when a vehicle struck them outside their church in North Kansas City, Mo.
The North Kansas City Police Department identified the girl Monday as Autumn Humphrey, who would have turned 1 on Sept. 30.
Police say the accident occurred at First Baptist Church, located at 2205 Iron St., as church services were letting out just after 11:30 a.m.
Autumn, her grandfather Ronald Barnett, 65, and her aunt Stephane Barnett, 40, were taken to an area hospital, where Autumn was pronounced dead at approximately 12:45 p.m., according to police.
Autumn’s grandfather has been released from the hospital. Her aunt was still being treated for unspecified injuries, but church members told 41 Action News she was expected to recover.
Witnesses told North Kansas City Police that an elderly man may have accidentally hit the gas and accelerated, striking the two adults and child. Ronald was carrying the baby across the crosswalk just outside the church. Witnesses say the driver slammed into another vehicle, hit the three victims, knocked over a fire hydrant, squealed backward more than 50 feet, then finally came to a stop.
Neighbor Matthew Ross will never forget the sound he heard moments after the crash, "That woman screaming will never leave my mind,” Ross said. “She was hysterical and terrified and from what we understand now, for good reason."
Associate Pastor Spencer Stith says the driver is an older man who has been an active member of the church for several years. He is in good health and has a clean driving record.
The driver, overwhelmed with grief, spoke with church members through tears shortly after the accident. "He kept saying ‘Don't for a second think that I would ever intentionally hurt anyone'. As he was there weeping he said, 'I wish it was me there on the curb instead of those three'," Stith said.
Sunday night, several members of First Baptist Church joined together in a candlelight prayer session to remember the child and pray for her family.
Pastor Tiger Pennington led the prayer, "We know God is there even when we don't understand. Our hearts are broken. This is beyond description. Yet, death will not have the final word this day."
Church members say they’re supporting the child’s family as well as the driver.
"We mourn with this family and this grief-stricken individual and we want to be a part of comforting them, but we also want to be a part of pointing beyond tragedy to hope," said Pastor Pennington.
Police say the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident is cooperating with authorities. There was no word on whether he’ll be charged.
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