Vigil held for girl killed in Salt Lake City crosswalk
A beaming Ambrosia Amalathithada left Whittier Elementary on Wednesday with her mom after finishing a successful tutoring lesson with her first-grade teacher. To celebrate the 6-year-old's exponential improvements in reading, her mom planned to take her to the store for candy but that was the last moment the two would share together.
As the pair crossed State Street at the 1500 South crosswalk, a northbound car went around stopped traffic on the inside lanes, jumped a 2-inch-high concrete median and hit them, according to police. Ambrosia suffered head injuries and was taken off life support about 4 p.m. Thursday.
On Friday night, her father, Cody Ramseyer, walked that same crosswalk to the sound of bagpipes in solemn tribute to the daughter he lost.
"She was a happy spirit, when she was around people she loved and loved her," he said, surrounded by more than 80 people who came to honor her at a candlelight vigil.
"Please take into consideration that everyone has their own life. Everyone has people who love them. Anything can happen," he said.
Car tires screeched and vehicles sped by even as people held candles in tribute. Ramseyer said he had worried before that someone could be hurt at the busy crossing, but "I never imagined in a million years it would be my daughter."
Whittier Elementary School officials said that since there wasn't a light or crossing guard there, they often told people to walk up to 1700 South.
"We have been concerned about [that intersection] for a long time," said principal's secretary Debra Parr.
The crossing was recently approved for a light, but construction is slated to begin this summer, a Utah Department of Transportation spokeswoman said.
"They definitely need a light, and I think it needs to be sooner than August," said Ambrosia's step-grandmother, Kerri Ramseyer.
The girl's aunt, McKenna Lindsey, remembered Ambrosia as a girl who used to "light up a room."
"We are trying to deal with it the best we can," she said."It is horrifying. It is just really tragic."
Lindsey said they will all remember a bubbly, happy Ambrosia, who loved to sing, dance and run up to people and say she loved them. She loved life and loved going to church and school.
"She was definitely the life of a room when she walked in," Lindsey said.
The family has not formally announced funeral plans, but they have set up an account under the name Ambrosia Fund at Wells Fargo for those who want to help pay for the girl's funeral. They can also reference account number 8965456075.
Parr said students and the PTA will be collecting funds to be donated to the family on behalf of Ambrosia, whose family decided to donate her organs.
The girl's mother, 28-year-old Natalie Amalathithada, suffered broken legs, a smashed pelvis and other upper-body injuries, Lindsey said.
"It is pretty severe," Lindsey said. Natalie Amalathithada was still hospitalized in critical condition Friday and sedated following three surgeries. Doctors expect her to recover, but it may take 16 weeks or more.
She doesn't yet know her daughter died.
Police are still investigating the crash and may file criminal charges against the woman behind the wheel of the red Chevy Cobalt that hit them. Police say she is in her mid-40s, but they haven't yet released her name.
Ambrosia's teacher, Cami Luce, said she was a "courageous, brave little girl" who moved to the school in January and was still learning letters and sounds. But after meeting three days a week for an hour after school for a month, she could read. Wednesday, she had finished reading her fifth book. Luce said her mom welled up with tears as she told her daughter, "I'm so proud of you." She was excited about the improvements her daughter had made and had wanted to reward her.
"She was very bright," Luce said. "It is a teacher's worst nightmare to hear of a student dying."
A candlelight vigil to remember Ambrosia Amalathithada was held Friday at 8 p.m. at Kensington Avenue (1500 South) and State Street.
Ambrosia died after being hit by a car on Wednesday at the intersection.