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Funeral services announced for 2 Cass Co. girls killed in car crash

September 13, 2012|By Colleen Ferreira (cferreira@wsbt.com), Click here to follow Colleen on Twitter | WSBT-TV
  • Juliana Brown, 9, and Sophia True, 6, of Niles are being mourned after losing their lives in a traffic accident at Leet Road and M-60 in Howard Township on Tuesday. (Photo provided by Brown Funeral Home)
Juliana Brown, 9, and Sophia True, 6, of Niles are being mourned after losing their lives in a traffic accident at Leet Road and M-60 in Howard Township on Tuesday. (Photo provided by Brown Funeral Home)

NILES, Mich. – Funeral services have been announced for two young Niles area girls killed in a tragic traffic crash.

The devastating accident at Leet Road and M-60 in Cass County's Howard Township has a community heartbroken.

WSBT was first on scene as this accident unfolded around 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Police say 19-year-old Sarah Michael, a babysitter, ran a stop sign at the intersection of Leet Road and M-60 in Howard Township as she was driving 3 young sisters home from school.

A truck hit that car.

9-year-old Juliana Brown and 6-year old Sophia True died.

The youngest, 4-year-old Penelope True, is in critical condition.

Penelope was supposed to start preschool on Wednesday.

24 hours after the accident, witnesses are still shook up, still struggling to cope with the outcome.

“Everybody was in a panic,” said Bill Loux.

Seconds after the two cars crashed, Loux hopped out of his car and confronted the horrific scene.

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“All three kids were unconscious, and the young lady driving was hurt badly, but she didn’t recognize she was hurt. She was crying for help for the kids.”

Emergency crews pulled the little ones from the car as Loux comforted the driver of the truck. Police say the truck driver did NOTHING wrong in this situation.

“He was devastated by it,” Loux recalled. “He started crying. He’s got grandkids the same age.”

One day later the intersection was quiet, it was normal. But down the street, a school deals with the death of the 2 students.

“We have an unbelievable staff here and we have counselors that have surrounded us,” said Howard Elementary School Principal Michelle Asmus. “I think we are staying strong."

Juliana and Sophia True were students at Howard and Ellis Elementary.

"Julianna lit up a room, “said Asmus. “She always had a smile on her face, she befriended everyone, she was kind, she was sweet, and she was precious."

Niles Community Schools sent a letter home with students on Wednesday. It was a simple drive home from school that turned into a terrible tragedy.

“It’s something you can’t get out of your head," said Loux.

Concerns surrounding the stop sign have surfaced - Is it too difficult to see among the trees?

Records show since 2004, only 7 accidents have taken place in that intersection, none of them related to the stop sign.

Police have ruled out texting as a possible factor  but say it's still too early to tell if any other distraction contributed to Michael running that stop sign.

Once police complete the investigation, they'll send it to the Prosecutor’s office, That driver, if she's charged, could face anything from civil infractions to negligent homicide.

Brown Funeral Home in Niles is handling the funeral arrangements and tells WSBT services are scheduled Friday at the funeral home at 6 p.m. with visitation starting at 4.

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