Toddler killed while crossing street with mother in Stoughton

STOUGHTON — A toddler was killed Friday afternoon when she was struck by a box truck while crossing the street with her mother in front of parents and others at an elementary school, the Norfolk district attorney’s office and a worker who rushed to the scene said.

The mother and her 3-year-old daughter, Shayla Lutz, of Stoughton, were making their way across the street near the Helen H. Hansen Elementary School on Central Street at about 2:45 p.m. when the girl was struck, according to District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey’s office.

Shayla was taken to Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, where she was pronounced dead, Morrissey’s office said.

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Initial indications are that the woman and little girl were not crossing in a crosswalk, said David Traub, a spokesman for the district attorney, although two crosswalks are located approximately 300 feet from the crash. There are also two 20-mile-per-hour school zone speed limit signs on the street.

Brandon Tantillo, 21, ran from Stelios Pizza House across the street, where he works, to the scene of the accident and saw the little girl on the ground as CPR was being performed.

“It was hectic. There were a lot of emotions,” said Tantillo.

He said the girl was surrounded by people working to save her, and that the scene was crowded with onlookers. He also said there was a stroller resting nearby.

Tantillo estimated that in the past two years he has seen eight to 10 accidents in the area around the school. He added that he had never seen a crossing guard.

“You just see a lot of kids,” he said. “When a little girl dies people should realize then that they really need to pay attention.”

Stoughton police would not release details of the accident and referred all questions to the district attorney.

The State Police collision analysis and reconstruction unit is assisting in the investigation and spokesman David Procopio said it would take several weeks to determine if criminal charges are warranted. The driver of the truck, who has not been identified, stopped after the crash and was interviewed by police, as were eyewitnesses, according to the DA’s office.

“The evidence at the scene, interviews with eye witnesses, and other investigation by the Stoughton Police, State Police and Norfolk District Attorney’s Office does not support criminal charges in this incident at this time,” Morrissey said in a statement Friday night. “The investigation has not produced evidence that speed or impairment were a factor in this collision.”

Residents in the area said they had never seen a crossing guard at the school.

School Committeewoman Deborah Sovinee said she did not know if any crossing guard was on hand, but said, “There’s crossguards at schools all over town, everywhere in town. [But] I don’t know if there was a crossing guard where she [Shayla] was.

“It’s one of the busiest streets.”

Sovinee did say that Shayla was not a student at the elementary school.

She declined to comment further on the accident but said “it was a horrible tragedy” and “we hope that it will never happen again.”

Stoughton School Superintendent Marguerite C. Rizzi could not be reached for comment Friday, and Hansen school principal Faye Polillio refused to comment.

Jamie Dorazio, who lives half a mile from the school, said he waits until after students have started their school day before going on his morning run.

“This is not a great place to run. I especially don’t go out till after 9 a.m. in order to make sure everyone is in the school,” Dorazio said. “It’s a really terrible intersection, anywhere around here is hard to get in and out of.”

Stoughton Selectman John Anzivino, 59, was notified of the accident, but only knew that the toddler had died. He said the latest report he looked at stated the road where the accident occurred “takes about 27,000 cars a day.”

“It’s just a tragedy that something like this could happen,” said Anzivino. “Route 27 is a tough stretch through there,” he added.