Funeral services for young child struck by vehicle in Olathe

Remembering Harper Kay Rodden
Posted at 4:56 PM, Jul 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 06:57:24-04

A toddler was struck and killed by a pickup truck in Olathe on Wednesday afternoon, officials said. 

The 15-month-old girl, who police later identified as Harper Rodden of Spring Hill, was hit while she was in the street on the 13800 block of South Seminole Drive and was taken to a local hospital, where she later died.

The girl was being watched by a home day care at the time of the incident.

The 54-year-old male driver of the pickup truck remained at the scene and is cooperating with the investigation, according to Olathe police.

Tami Fowler, who lives near where the child was hit, said she knew something was wrong when she drove by the scene and saw a man standing by police.

"I jumped out and said, 'What happened?' He said, 'My father-in-law was picking up my 3-year-old and he accidentally ran over [the toddler],'" Fowler explained.

Fowler said she often sees children at the home the child wandered away from and knows the woman who runs the day care.

"She's very cautious with those kids," explained Fowler. "It's just one of those unfortunate accidents."

Toys were still visible in the driveway as police responded to the scene on Wednesday evening.

Neighbors looked on from down the street, shocked that a tragedy happened so close to their homes.

"It's a nightmare," said Debra Butland, who lives a few doors down from where the incident took place. "There is nothing worse. Nothing that I can think of that's worse."

Butland explained how many families live in the neighborhood surrounding South Seminole Drive. As a mother of several children, Butland said Wednesday's tragedy could easily happen.

"If you're around little kids at all, you know how it could happen," she explained. "There's not a parent that hasn't experienced that [feeling of], 'Where is my child?'"

As news of the tragedy spread, members of the neighborhood said it was tough to believe.

"It's horrible," said Tami Fowler. "It's horrible for everyone involved; the parents, the poor guy that was picking up one of his family members."

Remembering Harper Kay Rodden

In her 14 months Harper Kay Rodden was adored by her family especially by her brother Cole and sister Kinsley.

But she also had a second—much larger—family at MidAmerica Nazarene University

Early Thursday afternoon about 50 members of the university and community gathered at the Weatherby Chapel for a prayer service.

“She wasn’t a stranger to anyone around she just loved the attention of anyone and she smiled and laughed and she was just a great little personality,” Brittney Kellar, assistant athletics director at MidAmerica Nazarene University said.

Harper’s mother, Whitney, is the university’s strength & conditioning coach and her father, Geoffery was a student majoring in management and human relations.

“Many of our athletes refer to coach Rodden as mama Rodden so they saw Coach Rodden’s kids as their brothers and sisters,” Kellar said.

In the span of 24 hours, the family has received an outpour of support in various ways including on GoFundMe

“She was always smiling she was just excited to be around people, Coach Rodden always had her here whenever she could so she was constantly around our student athletes and our staff,” Kellar said.

On Facebook, Harper’s grandmother, Tina Rodden, asked for prayers during this difficult time. 

“The impact Harper’s accident is going to have on this campus from students to faculty is immeasurable in words” Kellar said.

Visitation for Rodden will be on Monday, August 1 from 9-11 a.m. Service will begin at 11 a.m. at College Church of Nazarene. 



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