The father of Emily Ashbrook, 6, and her 4-year-old sister, Elizabeth Ashbrook, said the two loved to shop and were crossing Roberts Road to get to a shopping center in west Columbus on April 11 with their pregnant mother when they were all struck by a car.
Emily died a short time later at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Elizabeth was taken there in critical condition but is expected to survive, said their father, Mark Ashbrook, 38, of Hilliard.
Their pregnant mother, 29-year-old Tiffany Marie Bronson, was rushed in critical condition to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, where she underwent an emergency cesarean section in a bid to save a baby girl not due until late June or early July. The couple's daughter, whom Ashbrook said they planned to name Olivia, was stillborn.
Bronson remains hospitalized on life support, and Ashbrook said he has been told she is not likely to recover.
"Pretty much my whole family has been taken," Ashbrook told The Columbus Dispatch in a telephone interview April 12. "They're innocent. They never deserved this."
Bronson and the girls had been visiting Ashbrook's father at the Hickory Mill Apartments complex in Columbus, just south of Hilliard and on the north side of Roberts Road, which was something they did about every other day, Ashbrook said. They were walking to the Silver Horn Centre shopping center on the south side of Roberts Road to get food and buy some gifts for the girls, he said.
As they were crossing Roberts Road about 2 p.m., Bronson and the girls were struck by a tan Chevrolet Malibu sedan driven by 57-year-old Robert Shaw of Galloway. Shaw immediately jumped from the vehicle to render aid, along with others who witnessed or came across the crash, including an off-duty paramedic.
Ashbrook said losing Emily and Olivia has been devastating, but he is focusing on Elizabeth, who remains hospitalized with broken bones and a hole in her liver.
Ashbrook said Emily, who loved the color purple, could do 200- and 500-piece puzzles and had what he called a "photographic memory." The 6-year-old was "gorgeous" and was always happy, despite having cystic fibrosis and doing five to seven breathing treatments a day, he said.
Elizabeth, who loves pink, enjoys doing flashcards of animals and knows all her colors, he said.
A crash report by the Columbus Division of Police shows two witnesses told officers that Bronson and the girls were crossing Roberts Road north to south from Hickory Mill Drive toward the shopping center when they went into the path of Shaw, who was driving eastbound on Roberts Road.
Police estimate Shaw was driving about 40 mph, and the speed limit is 45 mph in the area of the crash.
When reached by the Dispatch on April 12, Shaw declined to comment.
Eight 911 calls were placed from the scene by witnesses. Off-duty paramedic Thomas Eckenrode, who arrived on the scene shortly after the crash, took a cellphone from a bystander and spoke to dispatchers, telling them to send more ambulances to the scene and reported there were possibly two fatalities.
On one of the 911 calls, someone can be heard in the background saying the woman and children "walked right out in front of (the car)."
There is no crosswalk at that location. The nearest crosswalk is a "couple hundred yards" east at the intersection of Roberts and Hilliard-Rome roads, said Sgt. Brooke Wilson of the Columbus police Accident Investigation Unit.