By Mary O’Keefe and Robin Goldsworthy
A Monte Vista kindergartener has died after a vehicle being pursued by Los Angeles Police Department officers on Thursday night struck her.
The pursuit began about 6:30 p.m. after police witnessed a drug deal at Foothill and Van Nuys boulevards, said Officer April Harding, an LAPD spokeswoman.
Three suspects were in the car. At one point during the chase a gun was tossed from the moving vehicle.
The driver lost control of the car in the 11900 block of Fenton Avenue in Lake View Terrace where 6-year-old Kayla Woods was playing in a yard.
The child was struck and pinned between the car and a stone wall in front of a home. She was transported to the hospital and later died of her injuries, Harding said.
The two passengers were taken into custody at the scene; the driver fled and was captured about 9:30 p.m. that night.
The incident is under investigation.
Grief counselors were at Monte Vista on Friday to help the students and staff work through this tragic event.
“The school found out this morning,” said Dr. Susan Hoge, Monte Vista principal.
An emergency staff meeting was held on Friday morning and another one will be held on Monday.
“We have had tremendous support from the district,” Hoge added.
Assistant superintendent Katherine Fundukian Thorossian was at the school for most of the day as were psychologists. The teachers had not heard of Kayla’s death until Friday morning. The support personnel will continue at the school next week for anyone, child or staff, who needs their help.
Sealed letters were sent home with the children Friday afternoon notifying the parents of the tragedy. Hoge said the school has received many calls from the community asking what they can do to help the family and the school.
“[Her teacher] said Kayla was a cute little girl, one of the ones you want to take home,” Hoge said.
The family lives in Lake View Terrace and Kayla attended Monte Vista on a permit. There are no siblings attending the school. At press time there were no known plans for a memorial service.