SALEM - A 9-year-old hit-and-run victim died from her injuries early Saturday, and the man considered responsible is sitting in the Columbiana County jail, awaiting arraignment on a felony charge.
Detective Dave Talbert of the Salem Police Department said Todd R. Roberts, 27, 375 E. Main St., Washingtonville, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in a death, in this case, the death of Olivia Thompson, a fourth-grader at Reilly Elementary School.
The daughter of Billy and Beth Thompson, Olivia had been taken to Salem Community Hospital initially Friday night, then taken by helicopter to Akron Children's Hospital where she died at 5:45 a.m. Saturday.
"Any further charges will be reviewed by the county grand jury," Talbert said.
Roberts will remain jailed without bond pending his arraignment in Columbiana County Municipal Court, which may not happen until Tuesday or Wednesday due to the Veterans Day holiday. The charge against him is a third-degree felony, which carries a possible prison sentence of one to five years.
Police officers were called to the 500 block of East State Street at 9:20 p.m. Friday for a vehicle/pedestrian accident, learning that a young girl had been struck by a vehicle described as a black pickup which continued traveling east, fleeing the scene. Witnesses indicated to police that the pickup had been seen coming through the intersection at Lundy Avenue recklessly.
According to Talbert, all indications are that the victim was not in the crosswalk. He wouldn't give any details about what they've been told by Roberts. According to Olivia's aunt, Cyndy Baronzzi Dickey, she was spending the night at a former neighbor's house on Third Street, and she and her 14-year-old friend were going to get pop to go with a pizza.
Talbert said Roberts called 911 Saturday morning after learning the extent of the accident and said he was involved. He was interviewed earlier Saturday and his pickup, a 1998 Chevy S-10, was taken into evidence and processed. Later on, Talbert contacted him and told him he needed to be re-interviewed, and Roberts voluntarily came to the police station, where he was taken into custody after another interview.
While police have been working on the case, family members, friends and school officials have been struggling to deal with the loss of Olivia. Dickey said she was "very active, bubbly, really smart. She just loved fishing, anything outdoors."
She described Olivia as very artistic and said she was in a sidewalk drawing contest earlier this year.
"She was a very vibrant and energetic young lady and she will be missed greatly," Reilly Elementary School Principal Cindy Viscounte said.
A team of counselors and psychologists will arrive at the school Monday morning and meet with Viscounte, then meet with the school staff members to provide them with information on how best to support the students and provide them with what they need. The team will remain at the school all day and will be available to help both students and staff.
The school's call notification system was used to notify parents and say how sorry the staff is about the loss and explain to them how counselors and psychologists will be available for students.
"We will pull together and we will get through this. We want to pull together to honor her because she was a great and special young lady," Viscounte said.
Salem Superintendent Tom Bratten offered his condolences to Olivia's parents, saying, "Our thoughts and prayers are with them. I can't imagine the grief they're going through right now."
Billy and Beth Thompson shared some of their feelings in an e-mail, asking that people donate to the Reilly Wall fund in lieu of flowers.
"It's been a hell of a day ... our heart is shattered and it feels like there is no stopping the pain. God give us the strength ... pray for us... remember it's not Olivia we are crying for and hurting for... it's the loss and the empty space that was suddenly put there. Pray for all of us and yes for the man who took her from us. Bitterness and hatred is not the way to go. Close your eyes... picture Livvy with wings and a halo," they wrote.
"Please everyone Tuesday... please...find the brightest color of shirt you have and wear it for the day... Livvy loved bright colors... Listen to the WHO... the Beatles.. and the Eagles. She loved them all and would sing at the top of her lungs and smile. Momma's got a squeeze box, she wears on her chest...when Daddy comes home he never gets no rest..Cause she's playing all night...and the music's all right...Momma's got a SQUEEZE BOX ... AND DADDY NEVER SLEEPS AT NIGHT. Please do this for our daughter. So she will look down at the world and see it decorated like butterflies and flowers. Thank you all so much," they wrote.
Arrangements are pending at Stark Memorial.