EAST ST. LOUIS – A 1-year-old girl was killed in East St. Louis when she was run over by a car after a boy sitting in the vehicle started the engine and put it into gear, authorities said.
The incident occurred Saturday shortly before 4 p.m. According to East St. Louis police, an 11-year-old boy had taken his mother’s car keys without her knowledge and climbed in the vehicle to listen to music. Two 12-year-old boys joined him, with one sitting in the backseat and the other sitting in the front passenger’s seat.
“The boy on the driver’s side turned the music off and his friend, who was on the passenger side, turned the car on, put it into gear and the car moved forward and unfortunately it rolled over the 1-year-old,” Assistant Police Chief Ronald Ike said.
On Sunday, Police Chief Michael Floore released the name of the dead girl as Jayla Keith and said an autopsy earlier in the day determined the girl died of blunt force trauma to her head. Police have not released the names of the boys because they are juveniles.
Floore said that the investigation was continuing, but that it appears the girl’s death was accidental. He said it was too soon to say if the boys will face criminal charges, but that the department’s findings will be submitted to the St. Clair County state’s attorney’s office.
On Sunday, Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. said he hoped the girl’s death will serve as a reminder to parents that they have to make sure their car keys are in a place where their children cannot get to them.
“You have to make sure your keys are always where you can control them,” he said.