CRANBURY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The search is on for a hit and run driver who severely injured a teenager and killed her pet.
An SUV struck the 13-year-old as she took her dog for a walk in Cranbury Township, New Jersey.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, a flashing sign on Main Street reads ‘pedestrian hit and run.’ This comes after a tragic accident left a teen girl without her best buddy, Panda.
“She is suffering, but she is alive. I wish I could say the same thing about our dog,” the victim’s father, Andrew Huang, said.
Huang spoke to Baker over the phone about his 13-year-old daughter, Mia, who was hospitalized after being hit by an SUV around 6:10 p.m. Wednesday.
Witnesses say her dog, Panda, may have saved her life. It stepped in front of her as the SUV came barreling toward them.
“Neighbors were there to comfort her, and pet her and rub her to her very last breath,” Huang said.
It was part of their routine for Mia and Panda to walk out of the neighborhood toward Main Street, Baker reported. They stopped at the corner, and her father says she has no recollection of what happened next.
“How do you miss a five-foot-five person with a big, white fluffy dog in front of you?” Huang said.
“This is something that will be with her her entire life,” Cranbury Township Police Chief Rickey Varga said.
The police chief says he is using every resource to track down the driver. The impact was so strong, pieces of the bumper broke off.
Witnesses say it was a silver or champagne older model Ford SUV.
“It’s a hideous act for someone to hit a 13-year-old girl and take off,” Varga said.
A sign warns drivers of the 25 miles per hour speed limit as they enter South Main Street, but neighbors say there are blind spots on the corner of Evans Drive and something should be done to fix it.
“We’ve lived here 18 years and that corner has always been tough to navigate,” Jody Pagano said.
Mia’s parents broke the heartbreaking news about Panda to her last night when she got home from the hospital. They say she has a long road to recovery and want the irresponsible driver found.
During school hours, crossing guards help children across Main Street. Police sent a note to neighbors asking to review any surveillance videos taken by their home cameras to see where the driver may have gone.