4-year-old girl killed after SUV slams into a preschool playground: “She still had so much life to live”

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A family in Florida is left grieving the loss of their little girl who was tragically killed this week after a driver crashed into the playground of a preschool. The heartbreaking death happened on Wednesday when an 18-year-old woman driving a Jeep Cherokee swerved off a DeSoto County roadway

According to a report by the Florida Highway Patrol, she drove through a chain-link fence around a playground at Imagination Station Learning Center in Arcadia, hitting two kids, one of them being 4-year-old Maleena Valdez, who was playing inside. The vehicle ultimately came to a halt after crashing into a tree.

Emergency officers who were immediately dispatched to the area transported Valdez to Gulf Coast Hospital but sadly she died there later. The second child was taken to DeSoto Memorial Hospital and was said to be in serious condition, according to FHP. It was a horrific experience for Becky Stidham, who was nearby when the crash happened.

“Kids screaming and I said, ‘Well, it could be coming from our pool,’ but it was so many screams of so many kids and everything that I thought, well, you know, there’s no way it could be coming from the pool,” she told WINK of the devastating day. Officers who arrived at the scene of the accident arrested the driver for not producing a valid driver’s license. She was later identified as Kiara Morant from Tampa according to ABC affiliate WFTS.

At the time, Morant was booked into the DeSoto County Jail as the crash remains under investigation. But she was released from jail shortly after but that happened before Valdez died, cops told WTVT. Morant may now face additional charges in connection with the child’s death. A GoFundMe page, that has been created to help Valdez’s family with her funeral, describes the 4-year-old as “the light of our lives” who was “taken from us way too soon.”

“She was the light of our lives and she will desperately be missed by all who loved her. She was a sassy, kind, funny little girl who loved her big sissy and mommy and daddy more than anything in this world! Maleena was so innocent and pure-hearted! She still had so much life to live!” it continued.

“Due to these unforeseen circumstances her Mother will be out of work for some time to mourn the loss of her sweet baby girl and we all know that bills do not stop, and on top of it, funeral costs will also now be added to the everyday stuff that was already present before this horrible tragedy,” it notes, adding that the girl’s mother, Savannah, has another child to take of.

“We are asking for any help to alleviate even a piece of the burden for her family so that they can take this time to be together and mourn without added stress. Please continue to pray for Maleenas mother Savannah, Father Miguel, sister Jazziah and the rest of the family and friends, and that justice will be served in this unspeakable tragedy,” it read.

Cover image source: GoFundMe | Help with funeral costs for little Maleena!