SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A 12-year-old girl was hit and killed on the freeway while trying to save her friend Wednesday night.
It happened off of eastbound Business 80 near Watt Avenue. The teenagers were both coming from the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento off of Auburn Boulevard.
“They’re kind of forgotten and lost,” said Melanie Vance, a volunteer at the receiving home. She says the youth that stays there are considered “at-risk.”
Vance said, “I understand why kids run, they get afraid, they don’t know what to do, so they think they only thing to do is to run away and they have nowhere to go.”
California Highway Patrol said a 16-year-old resident was “distraught” and ran into the street Wednesday night. That’s when her 12-year-old friend, Kendra Czekaj, tried to save her and was hit by a car. Czekaj died from her injuries at the scene.
Terry Adams was on his way home when he saw a group of kids, alone.
“I see these kids coming from it, it looks like under the bridge,” Adams said. “I said, ‘What are you doing walking underneath the bridge?’ She said, ‘She’s dead.’ I said, ‘Who’s dead?’ And she pointed over to this body.”
Adams pulled over, and checked the victims’ vital signs.
“It was a young child and she was gone,” said Adams.
Adams is now just one of many questioning how this tragedy could happen.
“Who is watching these kids? How did that happen? How do you have kids 12,13,14 years old walking across one of the busiest freeways?” Adams said.
CBS13 asked who is responsible for watching their residents? The facility released a statement that reads, in part, “By law, CRH is not permitted to lock children onto campus to prevent them from leaving. Staff is required to follow youth when they leave campus to try to persuade them to return.”
The teenagers can come and go, and Adams says that was too late to save the young life in this crash.
The Sacramento County Health Department says the receiving home is licensed as a temporary shelter care facility and a short term therapeutic program. The crash is still under investigation.
The full statement from Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento Chief Executive David Ballard is below:
“The entire Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento community is devastated by the tragic death on I-80 last night of a youth placed in our temporary shelter care facility. By law, CRH (as well as other residential facilities for foster children/youth) is not permitted to lock children onto campus to prevent them from leaving. Staff is required to follow youth when they leave campus to try to persuade them to return, and CRH did so last night.
Because the youth we serve are protected by confidentiality laws, we cannot make further comment at this time. If we are able to make a later statement, we will alert you.
Since 1944, CRH has been dedicated to positively impacting the lives of children, youth and families affected by abuse, neglect, behavioral health issues and trauma in California. We are committed to this mandate to provide sanctuary, hope and healing to vulnerable youth with nowhere else to turn.”