BURLINGTON, ONTARIO — A 21-year-old man has been charged in a hit-and-run outside a school in Burlington, Ont., that left an eight-year-old girl dead.
The child was struck by a vehicle in a laneway between Central High School and Central Public School around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Halton Region police said.
"What took place last night is a massive tragedy," Const. Ryan Anderson said Thursday morning. "We've got a whole community here that's really hurting."
Anderson said the local community was attending a school theatre event at a middle school when the girl was struck.
The girl's parents had just dropped her off and she was trying to cross the driveway to get to the school's entrance when she was hit by a white SUV that was leaving the parking lot, police said.
The child was conscious and breathing when emergency crews arrived but died of her injuries at McMaster Children's Hospital a short time later.
Police said the driver of the vehicle took off, but witnesses were able to record the licence plate.
Officers arrested a 21-year-old man at the registered address about 10 minutes after the collision.
The suspect has since been charged with failing to remain after an accident.
"Whole families will be impacted, the community's impacted by this and our officers as well and all first responders," Anderson said at the scene, appearing emotional at times.
"It's hard not to empathize with the family ... It's just horrible."
Anderson said Halton police are investigating and additional charges are possible.
The force is urging anyone with information on what happened to contact them.
Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said she is "absolutely heart-broken and devastated."
"We are a community in mourning," she wrote in a statement. "We stand together and our thoughts are with the family, the community, the school board, and the first responders who answered the call last night."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2023.
The Canadian Press