TAMPA, Fla. -- A middle school student was struck and killed while running across the street on Thursday afternoon in Tampa.
Hillsborough County deputies say that around 4:45 p.m. a woman was driving southbound on Orient Road just north of East 29th Avenue.
Northbound traffic on Orient Road was stopped due to congestion. That's when deputies say that 11-year-old Brandon Heard Jr. ran across Orient Road westbound, through the stopped northbound traffic, into the path of the oncoming southbound traffic.
Deputies say that the woman swerved her vehicle to the right in an effort to avoid the boy, but he was struck by the left front of her vehicle. Heard was transported to Tampa General Hospital where he died of his injuries.
Jerald Betz lives across street from the crash site. He said immediately after the crash, he rushed into the street to help Heard.
“Everybody’s screaming and yelling,” he said.
Heard was a student at Mann Middle School in Brandon. Deputies say that he had taken the school bus to the area, but that he had not just exited the school bus when he was hit.
The school district says that grief counselors will be available at Mann Middle School on Friday at 10 a.m.
Principal Barbara Fillhart says the staff had an emergency meeting Friday morning and have three counselors along with crisis team members in the media center throughout the day.
“They’ll be in the media center all day long for any child who need to talk,” Fillhart said.
“Just listening,” said Bryan Noll, a member of the District Crisis Intervention Team. ‘Giving an opportunity to talk, to share.”
Fillhart said the students are still grappling with this sudden loss.
“It’s hard to believe,” she said.
As kids filtered into the media center Friday morning, they made cards and drawings for Heard’s family.
She read aloud some of the cards.
“We think you are amazing,” Fillhart read off of one card. “You made me laugh. Thank you for being a good friend.”
Heard was a very smart, all A-and-B student, Fillhart said.
In March, the students plan to make Heard an honorary member of the National Junior Honor Society.