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‘We are all diminished by her loss.’ Principal, family, classmates mourn girl

Celebrating the life of Leah Callison, who died as she was walking to summer school

Family, friends and teachers come together to celebrate the life of Leah Callison at Mitchell Middle School in Rancho Cordova on Saturday June 17, 2017.
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Family, friends and teachers come together to celebrate the life of Leah Callison at Mitchell Middle School in Rancho Cordova on Saturday June 17, 2017.

More than 100 students, parents and teachers gathered at a Rancho Cordova middle school Saturday to mourn the loss of a 12-year-old student killed after she was struck by a car early Tuesday.

Seventh-grader Leah Callison was walking to summer school at Cordova High School when she was struck by a vehicle near the intersection of Coloma Road and El Manto Drive.

A decision about whether to file charges against the driver won’t be made until the investigation is complete, said Sgt. Tony Turnbull, spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. Speed appears to be a primary factor, he said.

The remembrance service took place at W.E. Mitchell Middle School, where Leah attended, and was organized by Janice Davis of Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit agency that provides assistance to schools.

The need for such a service became evident as classmates posted painful messages on social media this week, Davis said. Leah’s funeral will be in Elk Grove, limiting the ability of some classmates to go, she said.

Davis started a collection effort to raise funds for the funeral and other costs. More than $4,100 had been raised as of Saturday afternoon. Donations can be made on the YouCaring website.

Leah’s mother, father and grandmother attended Saturday’s event. Fighting back tears, all three of them said they are feeling deep pain, but also felt buoyed by the community’s support for them.

After Callison’s family members spoke, a female classmate of Leah’s walked up and hugged Leah’s mother.

Principal Jim Huber said Leah was a girl “who built people up.” “We are all diminished by her loss,” he said.

Classmates released a batch of balloons in honor of Leah, put their thumbprints in on a poster dedicated to her, and signed a large card addressed to her.

“I can’t believe you’re gone,” one student wrote. “I hope you’re looking down on us all and know we love you so much.”

A 12-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle early Tuesday in Rancho Cordova, was a seventh-grade student attending summer school at Cordova High School. The student was struck by a eastbound vehicle about 6:45 a.m.

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