An 11-year-old girl was hit by a car Tuesday afternoon while playing outside her Lawrence County home with her little sister.
It happened around 12:30 p.m. on Highway 43 North in Ethridge, about 30 minutes south of Columbia.
"They had been out there, maybe two minutes," mother Teresa Parham said, who was inside making lunch for her children.
Parham said her daughter Rebekah Mejia, who has Down Syndrome, ran into Highway 43 in front of her home while chasing a ball.
"I go running out the door and there are cars everywhere. I go to the bottom of the hill and see Rebekah lying in the road. She was unresponsive," Parham recalled.
She continued, "Her favorite song is ‘I Can Only Imagine' by Mercy Me so I started singing it to her in her ear and she started frowning and crying and the guilt I have as a mother saying, ‘Why did I let her go outside?' and I want to say that luck has nothing to do with it, it is God. God is the one taking care of Rebekah."
Mejia was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville where she was last listed in critical condition in the intensive care unit for multiple injuries including fracture to her lower back and three skull fractures, among others.
"The biggest thing is the bruising and the bleeding on her brain," Parham told News 2.
The driver of the car that hit Mejia, James Warren, was charged for driving on a revoked license and the Tennessee Highway Patrol said more charges are possible.
By phone on Wednesday, Warren said he was devastated by the accident.
"It was pure shock, pure shock. I have never in my life seen so many people, drivers stop and get out of their cars and lay hands on that little girl and pray for her," he said, adding, "I am keeping the mom in my prayers. I am keeping the whole family in my prayers. There is not a moment that goes by that I am not thinking about her and her family."
News 2 has learned that Warren, 45, has been arrested four times for driving on a suspended license in both Nashville and Maury County.
Despite the tragedy, Parham said she does not blame Warren for the accident. "I do know he tried to stop. I don't have hard feelings toward him," she said. "God plans everything and if there is some way we can help him and turn his life around, that's what I want. If Rebekah can change that man, that's what I want. I don't want him to be punished."
Neighbors said the family recently moved to the area and the girl was scheduled to start school Wednesday.
It is unknown when Mejia will be released from the hospital, but her mother said she has been up and walking around her room.
A fund has been set up for Mejia. Donations can be made at any First Bank under the Rebekah Mejia fund.
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