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7-year-old girl injured by hit-and-run driver

May 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Orange County sheriff's deputies are searching for a hit-and-run driver who ran over a 7 year-old girl. The incident happened at Silver Lantern Street and La Paz Avenue in Dana Point at about 6:30 p.m. Monday. According to investigators Tabitha Cope was on her skateboard playing with a six-year old friend in their Dana Point neighborhood when she was run over by a light colored pickup truck. Cope survived and is now at Children's Hospital at Mission in guarded condition.

"She says it was a truck. It was bigger than the average pickup truck so it was higher up off the ground, but she doesn't remember much more than that," said the victim's father Joseph Cope.

"She looked both ways before crossing the intersection. Literally out of nowhere a white truck with a blue stripe came by, struck Tabitha, ran her over, left the seven-year old girl in the middle of the intersection and fled the scene," said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The truck that hit Tabitha fled going eastbound on La Paz Avenue. Tabitha's six-year old friend ran to her house to get her older sister.

"Her older sister, nearly 14-years of age, literally picked Tabitha off the street, carried her uphill to her father," said Amormino. "Her father Joseph rushed her to Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach but because of the seriousness of the injuries she was transported to CHOC Mission Hospital where she remains in pediatric intensive care."

According to Tabitha's dad she is outgoing, always smiling and can fend for herself.

"I just can't see driving away and leaving a child in the street. I imagine the person is probably fearful and scared of what the consequences may be but I know they're always a lot worse when we don't face the consequences," said Joseph Cope.

Anyone with information on the crime is urged to call the Orange County Sheriff's Department at 866-TIP-OCSD or 866-847-6273.


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