CRANBURY, NJ – The father of the 13-year-old girl hit by a car Wednesday evening while walking her dog is speaking out.
Andrew Huang, the father of 13-year-old Mia, sent several text messages and photos about the incident at the intersection of South Main Street and Evans Drive to family and friends, providing some details about his daughter’s condition and reaction to the loss of her pet dog, Panda.
“We are very, very lucky and Mia is already on the road to recovery,” he said in one of the texts. “Panda didn't make it though. (Panda) definitely protected Mia, as she took the brunt of the hit. She was a really special pup and will be sorely missed.”
According to Chief of Police Rickey Varga, Mia was crossing South Main Street with Panda around 6:18 p.m. when a light-colored SUV, believed to be a champagne or beige colored older model Ford Expedition with silver trim, hit her and the dog while they were in the crosswalk.
Varga said the SUV driver did not stop to render aid to the girl following the impact and fled the scene, heading north on Main Street.
Cranbury Police, Cranbury Volunteer Fire Company, and Cranbury First Aid Squad all responded to the scene, Mia was transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick with non-life threatening injuries, Varga said.
“She has a concussion, left lung contusion, road rash all over her body, hands, back, chest, legs, feet. Her back is in a lot of pain. No signs of internal bleeding and miraculously, no broken bones,” Her father’s text said. “She cannot move well but has sensation and can speak. She does not have any recollection of what happened and keeps asking for Panda.”
According to the texts, the parents did not tell Mia that Panda was killed in the incident until after she came home from the hospital on Friday.
“Had to break news about Panda. (Mia’s) heartbroken,” Her father said. “Now it is time to heal. She has to go through concussion protocol procedures. (She is) trying to stay positive and knows she's lucky to be alive.”
Andrew Huang said that bystanders hugged Panda and comforted the animal that likely saved Mia’s life as she passed away at the scene.
“A few neighbors stopped by and said Panda saved her life,” he said. “People were hugging Panda until she passed. So, this was very comforting.”
He sent text photos of Mia while she was in the hospital and of the family burying Panda.
While this was happening, police continue actively searching for the driver involved in the incident, Varga said.
“It won't be easy, but we're determined to look under every rock,” Varga said on Wednesday. “We'd really like to find this person.”
Varga said vehicles matching this description that were seen in the vicinity of Route 130 or Plainsboro Road around this time are also of interest, as the driver may have headed in the direction of either as they fled the scene.
He also said there were several witnesses to the accident and the interviewing process is ongoing.
A message board is up at the scene of the crash, looking to obtain as much information from the public as possible.
“We are examining all physical evidence and witness accounts as we are actively following up to locate the driver who callously drove away without stopping,” Varga said in a message to residents Thursday. “Numerous witnesses were in the area; however, we are searching for all additional witnesses who may have seen something during this time frame. We will diligently pursue all leads as we are determined to apprehend the offender in this case.”
Andrew Huang’s texts also thanked friends and family for their support during this traumatic time.
“Thanks for all of your support, prayers and positive energy,” he said. “It really works.”
A police SUV monitored the intersection and crosswalk Thursday night around the same time as the incident the night before, possibly looking for the suspect vehicle to return.
The incident struck a chord in the quiet, historic village downtown, just off Route 130 in Middlesex County.
Unlike many of the surrounding towns, Cranbury and its 3,000 or so residents enjoy the benefits of being able to walk to the various businesses, services, and school, without needing a car to get around.
Downtown eating establishments have outdoor seating just a few feet away from the main street and families are often seen strolling the sidewalks.
In recent years, the Township Committee invested thousands of dollars to redo the sidewalks and street lights along North Main Street to keep the pedestrian-friendly atmosphere of the community.
The last similar incident took place Sept. 5, 2015 when a “mechanical malfunction” caused an East Brunswick driver to hit a second vehicle at a North Main Street intersection and then continue into a group of people dining outside at Cranbury Pizza, injuring two juveniles.
Police ask anyone who may have been around the downtown village during the Wednesday night time frame, who may have seen the vehicle or may have any information to contact the Cranbury Township Police at (609) 395-0031.
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