One moment, 9-year-old LaDerihanna Holmes was doing what any other girl her age would be doing on a warm Friday evening: playing around in her front yard with a friend.
The next moment is hardly ordinary: A car barrels past a stop sign in front of her house, going airborne as it hurtles into the yard and strikes the girl. It was all caught on an alarming, hard-to-watch surveillance video that was shown on TV news over the weekend and went viral online Monday.
While the girl remains in critical condition, her family is pushing for answers and asking for the driver of the car and a passenger to turn themselves in. Both left the scene after the crash, leaving the car lodged inside the brick home. DeKalb police Major Jerry Lewis said investigators have “good leads,” but no arrests had been announced Monday night.
“They were right there among us,” Charlette Bolton, the girl’s mother, said at a press conference Monday. “They didn’t look for my baby. They didn’t look down for my baby.”
LaDerihanna, who Bolton referred to as her “baby” several times, felt a little sick on Friday and stayed home from school, so she was asking to go outside all day, her mother said.
‘When she kept nudging the bed, I finally said, ‘OK LaDerihanna, but just stay on the porch,’” she said.
Looking back, Bolton feels bad for letting her daughter go outside. But she couldn’t have known what was about to come speeding down Cherokee Valley Circle about 6:50 p.m.
LaDerihanna’s friend, an 11-year-old who lives in the neighborhood, appears to see the car first, according to the video. The 2017 Ford Fusion barely missed hitting a stop sign and utility pole, and lurched toward the yard. LaDerihanna tried to run out of the way, but it was too late.
The sedan launched onto the grass and into the house.
“We heard a deafening sound … I knew something was majorly wrong,” Bolton said. She found her daughter pinned between the car and the rubble from the house, and immediately assumed the worse. LaDerihanna, who has five older brothers, was bleeding from her head. She wasn’t responsive, but family members performed CPR and she maintained a strong pulse. Her family would later learn she had a fractured skull, broken pelvic bone, several cuts and other internal injuries.
But in the moments after the crash the car’s passenger is seen immediately running away.
More family members frantically ran into the yard, while a man in a yellow shirt is seen walking around and rummaging to get something from inside the car. He then casually walked away.
“It was cold. It was very cold,” Bolton said of the two who left the scene, adding that she was only able to watch the disturbing video once.
Less than three minutes after the crash, the girl’s father Derryl Holmes scooped her up and drove her to Emory Hillandale Hospital. He laid her head on his leg and his hand on her chest.
“I drove with one hand the whole way,” Holmes said, “and I made sure she had a heartbeat the whole way there.”
LaDerihanna will need to learn how to walk again, but her family is thankful she is alive and in good spirits. It’s unclear whether she will be able to cheer and dance again, which she loves to do, her mother said. She is able to talk, and she had already begun physical therapy on Monday.
“(The car) hit her head-on, and it didn’t just hit her, it knocked her through a brick wall,” the family’s attorney L. Chris Stewart said. “It is an absolute miracle that she survived this.”
According to the police incident report, investigators were able to locate the owner of the car. She said she was at work at the time of the crash and her boyfriend had been driving her car on Friday.
However, the family does not believe the boyfriend, who is in his 30s, was behind the wheel. Both of the people they saw running from the scene appeared to be teenagers. In the moments after the crash, the family was only thinking about LaDerihanna, so they did not pursue the people who had hit her.
It’s not clear why the car was speeding when it passed the stop sign. Stewart said the car may have been stolen, but he has not seen a police report indicating that.
The family is urging the people in the car to turn themselves in, and asking anyone with information about them to come forward.
“I’m angry. I’m hurt,” Holmes, the father, said. “Because for them to just walk away … they know they hit my child.”
Stewart has set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with medical expenses. The campaign has a $20,000 goal.
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