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Parents blame sidewalk for teen's death

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Updated: 11/19/2013 12:06 am
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Parents of a St. Augustine hit-and-run victim believe the tragedy could have been prevented.

Haley Smith, 15, was struck by a car Saturday night, only a few feet from where the sidewalk along Kenton Morrison Road ends.

"I feel confident they were on the sidewalk and had just gotten off because it ended. I feel like they would have stayed on the sidewalk if it were there," said Jo-Lee Manning, the victim's mother.

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office released a desperate 911 call from the night Haley was struck and killed.

Her family visited the crime scene Monday morning to witness St. Johns County workers erect a marker in her memory. The victim's mother said Haley was looking forward to celebrating her 16th birthdat on Dec 7.

Her life was taken on Saturday night when she was hit by a pickup truck after leaving a nearby Publix.

"Not understanding why or how someone could hurt her and leave her unattended," said Manning.

Manning said for her, the marker is a realization that her little girl is not coming back, but she hopes it will generate leads in the case.

"I hope that whoever did this, that every time they ride by, they see that marker and they think about what they've done," said Manning.

Police have very little to go on, but Action News has learned investigators are looking through surveillance video from nearby businesses. A recording of a 911 call made moments after the crash captured the frantic calls for help from a witness:

Caller: I need help, please!
Dispatcher: Sir, we need you to calm down and start to cooperate with us. I need you to answer some questions for us. Where did the vehicle go that hit her, and what did it look like?
Caller: "I couldn't tell; it was dark. All I heard was a noise. All I saw was the back lights. back lights. It kept going."

Brittany Szczepanik said while nothing can bring her cousin back, her family needs justice to heal. "I just wish to know that she could've lived longer than I did because she did not deserve this," said Szczepanik.

Grief counselors were at St. Augustine High School, where Smith was a sophomore.

Services will be held on Wednesday at Moultrie Baptist Church at 10 a.m.

A fund has been set up at Community First Credit Union to help the family pay for funeral arrangements. Donations can be made at any branch by using account number: 773014.

Police believe the suspect may be driving a gold pickup truck and was last seen fleeing south on Holmes Boulevard.
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