ESSEX, Md. (WJZ) — Police say a 7-year-old girl is dead after being struck by a white work van outside a local school.

The accident happened in the 900 block of South Marlyn Ave. at 3:30 p.m., when the student was across the street from Sandalwood Elementary School in Essex.

When the first officer arrived on the scene, they immediately began CPR, and was rushed to Franklin Square Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

The drive remained at the scene, officials say.

The Baltimore County Police Department says their investigation found that 7-year-old Na’Tasha Newman was running down the sidewalk after a group of children when she darted out in front of the van as it began to exit the townhome community onto South Maryln Avenue.

Her brothers were on the other side of the entrance.

“Na’Tasha is just the sweetest little girl you could ever imagine. She always had a smile on her face no matter what was going on in her life,” said her grandmother Kathleen.

The driver of a white work van was pulling out of the residential complex, and just as the van was leaving, the girl ran in front of the van and was struck.

One witness said the driver tried to save her.

“The driver saw the large group of kids crossing and he waited for that larger group of kids to cross before he started to pull out into the driveway. He was going at a slow speed as far as we can tell, he pulled out into the driveway he may not have been able to see her, there’s bushes here, only 7-years-old, so it is entirely possible he was just not able to see her as he was trying to pull out,” said Officer Jennifer Peach, with Baltimore County Police.

Officials said there was a crossing guard who helped the children get across the busier road right across from Sandalwood Elementary but when she came to the sidewalk is when the incident occurred.

Across Maryln Avenue in front of the school, parents watched the incident unfold.

“I happen to walk out just thinking it’s an accident, asked a neighbor, I said ‘Please tell me a little kid did not get hurt,'” said Ashleigh Cousins, a witness.

Baltimore County Public Schools tweeted information Thursday on emotional support that will be available to staff and students Friday and Monday:

Sandalwood Elementary School’s principal also issued a statement, quote tweeted above, on Na’Tasha’s death, saying that support would be provided.

“It’s still sad, I mean, 7-years-old. You can imagine what the parents are going through right now. It’s really sad,” said Jessica Buehler, a mother.

Na’Tasha’s older brother was with her during the incident. He said she was his favorite family member.

“She was the best sister I ever had,” her brother Noah said.

As the community’s memorial continues to grow, the family is trying to cope with such a sudden loss.

“I got four grandsons and that’s my granddaughter, nobody like her, there was nobody like her,” Kathleen said.

Na’Tasha was in second grade, and she had just been on a field trip to the zoo Thursday.

Baltimore County police said the investigation will continue.

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