A Sioux Valley Dakota Nation woman is to be sentenced next month after pleading guilty to impaired driving causing death for a crash that killed an 11-year-old girl.
Just before the offender recently entered her plea at her preliminary hearing, a witness described hearing the van hit the girl.
"I just heard a God-awful sound … and I caught a bike flying through the air out of the corner of my eye," said Griswold-area resident Robin Dodd.
Dodd testified in Sioux Valley court recently, just before Ronalda Stephanie Ross entered her guilty plea for the July 6, 2011, crash at the First Nation.
Dodd had a clear view of events as they unfolded that sunny afternoon.
She described how she was unloading water from her truck for her horses in a pasture along Highway 21 when she noticed four girls riding their bikes.
The girls were riding east along the highway on the gravel portion of the road’s shoulder where they then stopped to admire some horses.
Dodd had also noticed an approaching van which she estimated to be travelling 70 km/h to 80 km/h as it headed west.
She saw the van swerve toward the girls but, at that moment, she was momentarily distracted and didn’t see the crash itself.
But she heard the impact and caught a glimpse of the girl’s bike as it flew through the air. When she looked back toward the highway, it was clear what had happened.
"I could only see three girls standing by the ditch, so I knew that one had been hit," Dodd said.
She dialed 911 on her cellphone and ran to the highway where one of the girls was lying face down beside the ditch. The girl’s bike lay in the ditch about 10 feet away.
The child had a broken leg, a gash on her forehead and her breathing was shallow.
Dodd, a passing truck driver and an official with the Office of the Fire Commissioner who also happened to be passing by tried to help the girl as they awaited the arrival of the STARS air ambulance.
The child, who was from Sioux Valley, was then flown by helicopter to the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, but she died later that evening.
Ross had been driving the 2005 Ford Freestar van that had struck the girl, and she was arrested at the scene.
A pre-sentence report has been ordered to look into Ross’s aboriginal background and sentencing is set for Sept. 10.
Ross is in custody as she awaits sentencing.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 8, 2012