Sheila Nusbaum of Margate, Florida hit Sara Merant, 2, in a Walmart parking lot, according to reports. Merant was later pronounced dead. Nusbaum apparently did not see the toddler as she was backing up. No charges have yet been filed as Margate police conduct an investigation into the car accident.
According to reports, the incident occurred at approximately 11:25 a.m. on Monday, April 2, at a Walmart located at 5555 West Atlantic Boulevard in Margate. Kerlange Merant, the girl's mother, told officials that she had gone to Walmart with the child and was about to leave when the accident occurred. Merant, 36, explained that she loaded her purchases into her vehicle, buckled Sara into a child seat, and was walking her shopping cart over to a designated rack when she head a crash and a scream. Sheila Nusbaum had backed into the 2-year-old as she was leaving the Walmart parking lot in her Honda CRV.
Merant says that she ran over to find her daugher on the ground, bleeding. She told officials that he hadn't locked the door of the car, since Sara had never left the car on her own before. However, Merant did mention that the little girl knew how to unbuckle the child seat. Nusbaum remained on the scene of the accident and is cooperating with authorities, according to a statement from the Margate police department.
Sara Merant was found in the parking lot with fatal injuries, a bottle of milk that she had apparently been carrying lying beside her. She was transported to Northwest Medical Center, where emergency medical workers hoped to stabilize her condition before airlifting her to Broward General Hospital. However, she ended up being pronounced dead at Northwest Medical Center. Kerlange Merant was also taken to the hospital for treatment, as she collapsed at the scene of the crash.
"I saw police tape everywhere and the ruckus," said one witness, who had been in the parking lot during the aftermath of the accident. "It's terrible and so sad when any child is hurt." Others seemed to concur with that sentiment. "I am so very sorry for your loss. I arrived at Walmart right after it happened and I am sick from this all day. There are no words to say," said another witness to the family in an online guest book for the family.
As news of the death spread, family members gathered at the Merant's residence to console the couple. "I loved her very much," Penelson Merant, the child's father, told the press. He was at work when the accident occurred. "She'd come to see me at the front door whenever I got back from work to say, 'Hi, Daddy.'"
"I don't know why this happened to me... she made me happy," Kerlange Merant added. "She's not there anymore. She's gone forever."
Back up accidents involving children have been a long-standing hazard, since children's small statures make them difficult to spot behind vehicles. Some states are currently considering legislature that would require extra features on vehicles to prevent these kinds of accidents from occurring.