Hit-run suspect charged in deaths

LOUISVILLE — A ”summer of summers“ was ended for two girls who died after being struck by a car on Friday.

Claudia Wadlington, 5, and her best friend Riley Jane Lawrence, 4, were hit as they were crossing a Louisville street with Claudia's mother, Angie Wadlington.

Relative Becky Vickerstaff told The Courier-Journal of Louisville that the girls' activities this summer had included going to Kentucky Kingdom, ballet camp, and Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen.

”They were living large,“ Vickerstaff said. ”They were a joy. They lit up rooms.“

Angie Wadlington was crossing Floyd Street, holding the girls' hands, when they were struck by the Pontiac Grand Am, relatives said.

Claudia died at the scene. Riley was pronounced dead at Kosair Children's Hospital.

Police arrested Kenielle D. Finch, 26, who is suspected of driving the Grand Am, within hours of the crash. Finch was charged with two counts of murder, aggravated assault, and fleeing and evading police.

Police also released citations that show Finch, of Louisville, was arrested in connection with three bench warrants, for charges including being a felon in possession of a handgun, leaving the scene of an accident, resisting arrest, carrying a concealed deadly weapon, possession of a controlled substance and tampering with physical evidence.

Angie Wadlington suffered a broken left arm and an injured left leg, her mother, Jackie Lipham, said.

After the crash, Louisville Metro Police moved Wadlington to the curb, where she looked up to see ”the police cover up Claudia as she lay in the street,“ Lipham said.

”That is a memory she will have to live with for the rest of her life, to see her daughter covered up,“ she said.

The accident started with a routine traffic stop.

Before the crash, Officer Darrell Hyche pulled Finch over for cutting off another driver in traffic at Floyd and Central Avenue, police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley said.

When Hyche approached the blue sedan on foot, Finch drove away, Smiley said.

Hyche radioed for backup, Smiley said. Meanwhile, the 1993 Grand Am drove five blocks north on Floyd Street to where Wadlington and the girls were crossing with the light at Warnock Street.

The car was abandoned two blocks away and Finch fled onto the campus of the University of Louisville.

About 8 p.m. Friday police arrested Finch about 12 miles from where the car was abandoned. They spotted him as he sat in a vehicle, Smiley said.

Angie Wadlington, 33, was released from University Hospital on Friday night.

”She keeps asking me "Mama, why?'“ said Lipham, 51, a restaurant manager from Paducah.