Rose Griffith, mother of 12-year-old Payton Griffith, said she knew something was wrong Wednesday afternoon when two boys ran to her home.
The boys told her something had happened to Payton.
Two blocks away, at the intersection of Auburn Drive and Eastland Parkway, Payton had been struck in the crosswalk by a car. Rose Griffith rushed to the scene.
"I can't even really believe it," she said in a telephone interview Thursday.
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"I already knew she had died. I touched her hand and it was cold."
Griffith, 34, sobbed. She said Payton loved volleyball and wanted to be a teacher or doctor.
Payton, a sixth-grade student at Bryan Station Middle School, was like any other kid in many ways, but was mature and responsible, Griffith said.
"She really was focused on her studies," she said. "She always did her homework."
Payton, the middle child, loved McDonald's, Griffith said. "Every Saturday she would order a breakfast burrito."
Ted Fraebel, who lives on Auburn, said he arrived at the scene Wednesday after the third police car.
Police have said the female driver who struck Payton stated that her vision was impaired by late-afternoon sun. Authorities have said the case is being investigated as an accident.
"Police and first-aid people were running," Fraebel said. "I saw them administering CPR. They were doing it vigorously."
Helen McQuinn, who has owned the brick house on the corner of Auburn and Eastland for 52 years, said she didn't see what happened, but an image replays in her head.
"I can still see her little backpack," she said. "There was one shoe and a backpack. It was laying on the grass. It was just laying there."
Thursday afternoon, parts of a broken headlight were still on her lawn.
Flowers, notes, candy and stuffed animals served as a memorial at the intersection.