Girl, 8, killed in South Side hit-and-run

June 15, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Mariela Crisostomo was struck as she rode her bicycle near her home in the 3300-block of West 62nd Place. No suspects are in custody.

The neighborhood is grieving along with Mariela's family. People came by the family's home all morning Wednesday to leave flowers in memory of the little girl.

Mariela was small in size, compared to her fellow third graders at Sawyer Elementary, but made quite an impression on her teachers with her big personality.

"She was always wanting to do as much as possible for me. 'Can I help you with anything?' and she was willing come to school early," said teacher Cheryl Poetzinger.

"She would sharpen pencils ... anything you need help doing, she was willing to do it," said teacher Nina Obediah.

Wednesday was the last full day of class for students at Sawyer, and on what would normally be a festive day, Mariela's teachers and classmates are mourning her loss.

"She was an overall good kid. She tried to do her best in everything, and it's a shame someone would just hit and run, and now I don't have a sister," said Mariela's 17-year-old sister Elizabeth Crisostomo.

Mariela didn't survive her internal injuries. She died Wednesday morning several hours after being hit by a driver in an SUV that never stopped.

"I ran outside and she was on the floor on the grass and she was bleeding on the side of her head," Elizabeth said. "She was looking at me in shock. She wouldn't respond when I would call her name."

Mariela was on her bike a few doors down from her home.

Michelle and Marlene Lopez were across the street when they saw the gray or silver SUV.

"I saw her on the floor. First thing I did was run after the person. They did not stop," said Michelle Lopez.

"I saw the little girl flying. That's pretty much it. Her and her bike, and it landed on top of her, so the bike was stuck under the car and I was trying to pull it out," said Marlene Lopez.

Witnesses say they believe the child was turning onto the road from the sidewalk when it happened.

Neighbors believe careless drivers are using West 62nd Place as a shortcut, and they want speed bumps.

"Sometimes there will be traffic jams on 63rd. Coming down Homan they will wrap around our street just to get to Kedzie," said Jason Rozycki, neighbor.

Meanwhile, the neighborhood is embracing the family suffering an unthinkable loss as the search for the driver continues.

"I hope that you have a good conscience and can sleep at night," said Elizabeth.

Witnesses were not able to get a license plate number of the SUV. They said they believe a female was driving with a passenger in the vehicle.

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