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Trimble County residents, members of the law enforcement community and emergency responders are overcome with grief following the death of a two-year-old child who was struck by a car in Bedford on Thursday.
Kloie Garcia had been with her family at a yard sale in front of their home on Highway 421 North in Bedford, law enforcement authorities said.
Troopers from Kentucky State Police Post 5 in Campbellsburg responded to the call at 11:06 a.m., according to Trooper Brad Arterburn, who is leading the ongoing investigation.
“The girl ran into the roadway and was hit by a vehicle driven by 21 year old Ryan Jones of China Grove, North Carolina,” Arterburn said. “Trimble County Deputy Coroner Lee Congleton pronounced the girl dead at the scene at 11:45 a.m.”
Trooper Arterburn was assisted at the scene by the Trimble County Sheriff’s Office, Trimble County Emergency Medical Services and personnel from both the Bedford and Milton fire departments.
“Yesterday was the worst day I’ve had since I’ve been on this job as Trimble County Sheriff,” Sheriff Tim Coons said by telephone Friday.
“It’s the worst call I’ve ever had to respond to,” Milton Fire Chief Jason Long said after returning from the scene to the department’s Station No. 2.
Coons arrived on the scene within minutes after the accident. The driver was on the scene and was “shook up pretty bad,” Coons said. “I told the other officers on the scene to get him away from there. One of the other units on the scene took him away. The child was still alive when I arrived on the scene but she passed shortly after.”
The driver “was there at the scene for maybe 10 to 15 minutes after law enforcement arrived on the scene,” Arterburn said. “He was understandably very shaken. It was a very tense situation so we got him out of there.”
Kloie Garcia was the daughter of Jessica Lynn Medeiros Sachleben, Bedford, and Jeremy Garcia, Madison.
“She was a beautiful two-year-old little girl,” Jessica Sachleben told members of the news media Thursday afternoon. “She was about to turn three on July 30. She loved to swing at the park, go down the slides. She loved making messes and she liked Elmo.”
“She loves to go to church,” the child’s grandmother, Karleen Richmond, said. “She puts her hands up and she says, ‘I love you Jesus.’ ”
Kloie’s mother and step-father, Jason Sachleben, her siblings – Hailey Marie Medeiros and Blayden Steven-Perry Booker – and grandparents Larry and Karleen Richmond were all at the scene of the yard sale when the tragedy occurred.
“The family was very emotional,” Coons said. “We had a hard time getting them calmed down. I called Tom Starks, who was off duty, to come in and help with them.”
Starks, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, serves as the sheriff’s department chaplain as well as an officer on the department. Coons praised Starks highly for his professional manner of helping the family deal with their grief.
“I’m really thankful that we now have a chaplain on the staff, somebody who could help with that situation. Tom spent time with the family and even went to the funeral home with them.”
“I had just parked the van across the street to unload some folding chairs,” the child’s grandfather, Larry Richmond, told The Trimble Banner yesterday. “I saw the whole thing. I have replayed that scenario over and over in my mind and I’ll carry it with me until I die.”
Richmond said the child was in the gravel beside the highway within arms length of her grandmother when she was struck and believes the driver was traveling in excess of the posted speed limit.
“I got to hold Kloie in my arms when she came into this world and I got to hold her when she left this world,” Richmond said. “She’s with the Lord now and that’s a comforting thing to know.”
Contrary to Richmond’s statement and other statements made by family members on Louisville television news broadcasts both Arterburn and Coons said the driver was not over the white line that marks the side of the highway.
“From what we gathered from talking to people on the scene and from tire marks in the roadway he never left the roadway,” Arterburn said. “From the results of the investigation I don’t anticipate any charges will be filed. It was just a terrible tragedy. She made her move into the road just at the same instant the driver was passing by. It is what it is.”
“As far as all the evidence we saw at the scene there was absolutely no one at fault,” Coons said. “It was a terrible tragedy. I’m very satisfied with the investigation, not only from the witnesses we talked to but also from the physical evidence on the scene. I’m satisfied there was no negligence on the part of the driver. There was no fault on the part of the parents. It was one of those situations where you turn your back for an instant and the child was in the road.”
The child was thrown maybe 25 yards up the roadway, Arterburn said, adding that speed was not a factor in the accident. The posted speed limit along the stretch of highway in Bedford is 35 miles per hour.
“I bet I walked the distance over and over and over from the point of impact to the point of where the child came to rest just to convince myself of what I was seeing,” Coons said. “There are marks where the child met the asphalt. You want to be absolutely sure of the evidence. It was very obvious after we were able to take physical evidence from the child, from the vehicle, from the pavement and from the witnesses on the scene the child was in the road when she was hit. It was just one of those situations where the child went into the road at the exact instant when that car reached the same spot on the highway. There was nothing that could be done.”
The remains were taken to the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s facility in Louisville where an autopsy was conducted on Friday.
Funeral services for Kloie Dawn Garcia were held Monday at the Morgan and Nay Funeral Centre in Madison. Obituary information may be found on Page 5 of today’s newspaper.
“Trimble County is a very close-knit community,” Coons said. “The people of the community and their church family have wrapped their arms around this family. That’s what close-knit communities do.”