Sugar Mill Elementary student dies after being hit by SUV at school crosswalk: police

A fourth-grade Sugar Mill Elementary student died Friday morning after being struck by an SUV at a crosswalk near the school, according to the Port Orange Police Department.

Students remembered their classmate by placing flowers, notes, and teddy bears along a fence outside the school. Crowds have gathered to pray and support each other as they cope with the loss.

The girl, who was riding her bike across a crosswalk, was struck shortly after 7 a.m. near the entrance to the school by an SUV, Port Orange Police Chief Manuel Marino said during a press conference on Friday afternoon. 

"What a horrific event today that affects not only obviously our Port Orange community, but all the families and Sugar Mill Elementary community – the students, the parents, the faculty," Chief Marino said. "Our condolences go out to them, but really to the family of the student that was struck and killed today. Such a tragic event here, close to the end of the school year."

The fourth grader, who has not been identified at this time, was transported to a hospital in Daytona Beach, where she died, police said.

Police are still trying to figure out how and why the crash happened. 

Chief Marino said the police department is working on canvassing the nearby neighborhood for anyone who may have witnessed or captured video of the crash.

Police said the crash happened within a marked school zone on the eastern side of the school's property. However, the cause of the crash and the circumstances of how it happened, including how fast the driver may have been going, are not yet known.

Police said the girl was riding her bike within a marked crosswalk when she was struck. A crossing guard was not at that intersection. The SUV driver remained at the scene and was "distraught," so police could not obtain much information about what happened, the chief said.

Chief Marino said it also remains unclear at this time if the driver was a parent at the school, but they appeared to be dropping someone off there. There will be an increased police presence at the school through the end of the school year, which ends next Friday, May 31. 

The girl's family responded to the hospital and are also working with the Victim's Advocate Office, police said.

Anyone with additional information should contact Port Orange Police.

"A heartbreaking loss for a family that got the worst news imaginable today. My sincere condolences and prayers are with them and the Sugar Mill Elementary student body and staff," Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a statement on X.


Why were there no crossing guards present?

FOX 35 News contacted the Volusia County Sheriff's Office and Volusia County Schools for information about how school crossing guards are hired and assigned.  

The sheriff’s office provides the crossing guards but does not determine their locations. Instead, a school crossing evaluation committee looks at all conditions and circumstances to determine the best distribution of resources, personnel, and safety measures.  

This committee includes representatives from the school district, Volusia County Traffic Engineering, School Transportation, VSO school crossing guard supervisors, and a citizen member. The committee regularly evaluates requests for changes or additions.

The committee recently evaluated the location near Sugar Mill Elementary School and its surrounding area, which includes a staffed crossing. Several measures have been implemented to address traffic issues around the school's entrance and exit. These measures include additional traffic control devices and traffic enforcement by the Port Orange Police Department.