ROMULUS, Mich. – State police are investigating the death of a girl who was struck and killed on a Michigan interstate while trying to get help for her dad, who had been involved in an accident.
Police said 7-year-old DeSandra Thomas was riding in a car with her father, who was drunk at the time, when he hit an abandoned vehicle and drove off the roadway. Emergency crews were called to the scene along I-94 in Romulus, Michigan around 3 a.m. Sunday morning, according to WJBK.
The man was knocked unconscious, so the little girl – thinking her father had died – texted 911 asking for help, police said.
Before officers arrived at the scene, the girl got out of the vehicle and tried to cross the interstate. She was hit by a car and killed instantly.
“Here’s a 7-year-old girl that’s not going to go to prom,” Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said. “She’s not going to graduate high school, go to college, have kids, have a career.”
The girl’s father was taken to the hospital, but he was uninjured. He is currently in custody pending charges.
“She was a beautiful thing, she was on her way to the third grade. She was 7 years old, she would give you the shirt off her back. She was so helpful," her mother, Sandria Burts, told WJBK. "She died trying to help her father. She thought her father was dead."
Burts told WXYZ that she has forgiven the girl's father.
“Sometimes grownups make kid decisions," Burts said. "It’s just that simple. I don’t think he thought in a million years, that his drinking and driving would have cost his daughter his life."
Police say the female driver of the car that hit the child was questioned by police but later released. She is not expected to be charged.
Shaw told WJBK that the tragedy could have been prevented if the father made the decision to not drive while drunk.
“This poor child, a 7-year-old, doesn’t get to live the rest of her life because of a decision that an adult made,” Shaw said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for the 7-year-old girl’s funeral.
“DeSandra was a hero and at such a tender age she was selfless,” her stepfather wrote on GoFundMe. “She didn’t care about herself, she was racing against time to save her father as anyone with a heart of gold would have.”