A North Texas family is mourning the tragic loss of their 16-month-old daughter after she was struck and killed by the family's truck, which police say had been put into neutral by her 4-year-old brother.
According to the Collin County Sheriff’s Department, the family was packing that truck to head to a family member’s home at about 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The truck was backed up in the driveway next to the home’s side door. Authorities said when the father went inside the home, his 4-year-old son grabbed the truck’s keys, started the engine and shifted the truck into neutral.
The truck rolled forward over the boy’s sister and eventually crashed into a neighbor’s fence.
The little girl died instantly.
Sheriff’s deputies reported when the father heard the sound of the motor, he ran outside, chasing the truck and trying to stop it.
The family’s pastor, who had last seen the girl only an hour before at Sunday services, rushed to the family's home when he heard the news.
“We’re trying to stand together as a church and as a family,” said Tom Ogden, pastor of Victory Christian Church in McKinney. “It’s not the worst yet. It’ll be when they can’t put her to bed tonight – that’ll be one of the worst times for them.”
Juan Verde, the uncle of the girl, told NBC 5's sister station Telemundo 39 that the little girl, Leilani, was his brother’s youngest child and only daughter.
Collin County authorities said the investigation is ongoing.