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Police: Driver was texting when he hit 3 girls

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Posted at 4:13 PM, May 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-14 19:11:46-04

WARNING: This story contains a photo that may be considered graphic to some viewers.

MIDVALE, Utah - Three girls walking home from school in Midvale were hit by a driver who was texting behind the wheel, according to Unified Police.

The accident happened around 3:40 p.m. at 700 West and Wasatch St. (8000 South) in Midvale.

"My heart dropped and I was just praying that she was okay, that she would pull out of it okay," said Jamie Ammons, whose niece Jennifer O'Dell was one of the victims.

The 14-year-old was walking in the crosswalk Tuesday with two friends, ages 10 and 9, when officials said a 28-year-old driver slammed into them, unaware they were even there until he hit them.

Lt. Justin Hoyal of Unified Police said the man was texting while driving and became visibly distraught when he realized what he had done.

"Pretty upsetting. I wish she wasn't going through that, and I would take her place in a heartbeat," Ammons said.

Neighbors who witnessed the crash said the speed limit on the road is 30 mph, but few abide by it.

"He was going fast," said Dianna Lee, who lives just yards away from where the crash occurred. "That guy was in the wrong. The children were in the crosswalk."

O'Dell and the 10-year-old were both taken to Intermountain Medical Center and said to be in good condition. The 9-year-old girl was transferred to Primary Children's Medical Center for a serious head injury, but her condition was upgraded from critical to fair by Tuesday evening.

"It took one moment for this to happen. Three children got plowed by one car, and how would you feel as a parent if your child was hurt this way," said resident Tammie Brito.

O'Dell was released from the hospital Tuesday evening. Her family hopes the accident will serve as a lesson to drivers down the road.

"Please slow down and don't text and drive, or talk on your phone. It's not worth it," Ammons said.

Jennifer O'Dell injuries. (From Jaime Ammons)

Jennifer O'Dell's injuries.
(From Jaime Ammons)