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Family speaks about girl killed in car crash

Kelsey Johnson, 5.
Kelsey Johnson, 5.
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Updated: 12/20/2013 10:27 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Kelsey Johnson's smile lit up the room.

"We definitely have a little angel flying above us," said Brittany Capozzi, her cousin.

The 5-year-old was killed when her mother's car crashed into the woods off the east beltway of I-295, two 2 miles north of Philips Highway early Thursday morning.

"It's bad enough she lost her child, and God knows what's going to happen to her because she was the one driving," Capozzi said,

Police tell Action News that 28-year-old Crystle Heidrick drove into the median, then overcorrected, flying across three lanes, before hitting a tree.

Sgt. Dylan Bryan of the Florida Highway Patrol says Heidrick removed her child's body from the car and carried her back to the road. Heidrick was standing in the middle of the lanes begging for help when an FHP trooper just happened to drive by.

"He actually swerved to avoid striking them, but was able to stop and back up and obviously assist by performing CPR until rescue arrived," Bryan said,

Bryan says the officer has been offered counseling services following the incident.

"I spoke with him this morning," said Bryan, "and he was still very emotional and rightfully so. It wasn't like it was something we were dispatched to. It doesn't make it easier but it does give officers time to prepare. This was brought up basically right in front of him."

Action News cameras caught investigators collecting more evidence throughout the day. Bryan says speed and alcohol may have a played a role in the crash, based on information found by investigators at the scene.

Capozzi says she doesn't believe it played a part.

"She loved that baby more than anything in her world, and she would never purposely jeopardize her or her daughter's life," Capozzi said.

Heidrick was taken to hospital in serious condition but was released Thursday afternoon and is recovering at her home in Middleburg.

Bryan said she is cooperating with investigators and consented to a blood test. Evidence is now being processed at the FDLE crime lab, with results expected in about two weeks. Charges are pending.

Bryan confirmed that Kelsey Johnson was strapped into her seat. She was most likely sitting in the front seat of her mother's vehicle.

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