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13-year-old struck in front of school

The girl did not look both ways before crossing the street, investigators say.

By LEANORA MINAI

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 28, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- A 13-year-old Riviera Middle School student remained in critical condition Tuesday after surgery for severe head injuries she suffered when a car hit her.

Julia Haddad, a seventh-grader, was hit in front of the school when she tried to cross 62nd Avenue NE to get home a few blocks away.

She was leaving the campus at 5:35 p.m. Monday after attending an after-school program.

No crossing guards were working at the time because most of the 50 to 60 kids in the program either take the school bus or are picked up by parents, said the school's principal, Al Bennett.

Grief counselors were at school Tuesday to help upset students.

Haddad, who lives in the 800 block of 60th Avenue NE, was hit by a 1996 Nissan after she stepped off the north curb.

Traffic investigators said she failed to look both ways before trying to cross the road. She ran into the right front side of the westbound Nissan driven by Anne O. Transue, 32.

The back of Haddad's head struck the windshield frame. No charges are expected, and speeding was not an issue.

Her parents, Fred and Lois Haddad, were too upset to talk Tuesday, said Ann Miller, spokeswoman for All Children's Hospital, where Julia was in the intensive care unit.

Bennett, the school principal, said Julia is an outgoing student in a dropout prevention program. She attends an hour-long session on Mondays and Wednesdays to make up work so she does not have to attend summer school.

"It was nice that she was in that program because it showed she was really making an effort," he said.

Bennett said he will talk with the police officer assigned to the school to see if there are ways to make crossing 62nd Avenue NE, the link to Shore Acres and Venetian Isles, safer.

"You always assess," he said.

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