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3-year-old struck, killed by truck in St. Paul

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE
  • Star Tribune
  • April 25, 2009 - 9:42 PM

Throughout her short life, Mai Yer Moua was daddy's girl, so when he crossed a St. Paul street Saturday morning it only made sense that the 3-year-old would be anxious to follow.

She slipped away from her mother and headed onto Rose Avenue, another happy child on an East Side street often filled with kids at play, neighbors say.

Two doors down, Mike Leiran, 42, heard "the thump" and rushed outside, where he saw a pickup truck, stopped, and the little girl, bleeding from her mouth, "gone from the get-go," in his opinion.

The death appeared to be an accident, police spokesman Peter Panos said.

A few hours later, upon returning to the scene, the girl's father, Vang Moua, said: "She was my favorite." Behind him in the street was a bright orange circle, spray-painted by authorities, where his daughter fell after having been struck by the pickup truck.

"It could be anybody -- it just happened to be his little girl," said Mickey Yang, who was translating for Moua, his cousin. He wiped his eyes and wondered aloud if people drove too fast on Rose Avenue, and weren't looking out for kids.

Panos said it was too early to say how fast the driver, who was questioned and released, had been going. He said that the man, whom he declined to identify, was distraught over the girl's death.

"Kids can get away from you,'' Panos said. "It happens all the time."

A busy block

From his front steps, Leiran looked out at the 900 block of Rose Avenue several hours after the accident and said that one could see as many as 50 kids there on a given day -- "and that's when their friends aren't over," he said. As he spoke, a little boy, eyeing a cat in Leiran's front window, approached and said, "Can I pet him?"

Said Leiran, "They all seem to be good kids here."

Leiran said he didn't see the girl get hit, but said he believed that speeding is a problem on Rose Avenue, which is just one block south of busy Maryland Avenue. It was about 9:10 a.m., authorities say, when Vang Moua and his wife, Mai Neng Moua, who live in St. Paul's North End, arrived on Rose Avenue for a family ceremony set to begin at noon.

Vang Moua walked across the street to the house, his cousin said later, and as Mai Moua reached inside the car for the couple's younger child, plus some other things, Mai Yer Moua ran onto Rose Avenue.

Sheila Clark, 38, who lives across the street from where the little girl was struck, said that she was talking on the phone and stepped outside to check the weather when she saw police officers doing chest compressions on the little girl.

"What a thing to walk out to," she said.

It had been just a day earlier, Clark said, when she was walking back from a park with her 6-year-old son, Gavin Sullivan, that the little boy made a sudden move toward Arcade Street.

She had to snatch him up.

"It's a never-ending battle with the kids and the streets," Clark said. "They just don't realize."

Anthony Lonetree • 612-673-4109

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