SALT LAKE CITY — As darkness fell, family and friends gathered at the street corner to commemorate the life of Ambrosia Amalathithada, the 6-year-old girl who died after being struck by a car in a State Street crosswalk Wednesday.
Even as mourners crossed the intersection at about 1500 South, a car skidded to a stop to avoid a pedestrian in the fading light. A traffic signal will be installed at the crosswalk, the Utah Department of Transportation announced Friday.
Ambrosia loved to sing and dance. She was high-spirited and happy, said her grandfather Cody John Ramseyer of Draper. She liked to do things on her own, like pouring a too-full gallon of milk, when she should have asked grandpa first, he said.
"She was just one of those kids that everyone loves to have."
Ambrosia was being walked home from Whittier Elementary by her mother when both were struck by a vehicle that had swerved around two other vehicles that had stopped to let them cross.
The accident was recorded by the security camera at the McDonald's, on the southeast corner of the intersection, according to a preliminary Salt Lake City Police report.
After watching the recording, the officer reported, “I observed the pedestrians walking westbound in the marked crosswalk, going across State St. I observed the vehicle strike the pedestrians...."
Natalie Amalathithada Randall, Ambrosia's mother, underwent her third surgery in three days Friday, family members said. She suffered two broken legs, a broken pelvis, and a fractured neck and skull, Ramseyer said.
Because of sedating medication, "she has no idea her child has passed," he added. Randall is expected to recover.
The 46-year-old female driver of the car that struck the two had not been charged or cited as of Friday. Salt Lake police would not release her name, saying they needed to complete their investigation before presenting it to prosecutors for possible criminal charges.
Salt Lake police said Friday they would look at whether distracted driving was the main cause of the accident or even a contributing factor.
The Utah Department of Transportation said the crosswalk where the two were hit has been on their list of problem areas. A traffic light was now expected to be installed this summer.
"It's about time," was the reaction from Deborah Parr, who works in Whittier Elementary School office.
Parr said the school has been trying for at least two years to get a traffic light at that crosswalk. During that time, she said parents and students had been encouraged to cross at 1700 S. State where there is a traffic signal and a crossing guard, or 1300 S. State near the school.
The school has made two announcements over their PA system since Wednesday, again encouraging students not to use the crosswalk at 1500 S. State.
Misty Holland, whose son Cameron formed a tight trio of friends with Ambrosia and another classmate, said their teacher handed out stuffed animals to the mourning first grade class.
"She said they were just clinging to them all day long," Holland said.
As bagpipes played over 100 people attending the candlelight vigil crossed the 1500 South crosswalk en masse westbound, just as Ambrosia and her mother had done two days before. Police officers with parked cruisers flashing lights held traffic at bay.
And then they crossed back again.
"When she died it was like I wasn't going to see her for a really long time, and that scared me," said Taya Bush, Ambrosia's 13-year-old stepsister. "When I saw the picture of her backpack and boot in the street I cried for a really long time."