By Pete McCarthy and Brian Englar News-Post Staff
A Frederick toddler struck by a car at a Walkersville park over the weekend has died, according to Maryland State Police.Frehiwot Olsson, 2, died Saturday at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she was taken after being struck at Heritage Farm Park earlier in the day.
Born in Ethiopia, Frehiwot was also known by her adoptive family as Marra.
“She’s loved by so many, and she touched so many lives,” her mother, Amy Olsson, said during a telephone interview Monday night. “Adoption is such a beautiful, redemptive thing. We are finding so much comfort in her story alone and knowing that we had her for these months that we did, and to give her a family, we feel so blessed. That’s what is carrying us through.”
The girl’s father, Sten, said Frehiwot had a difficult start to her life.
She was abandoned by her birth mother in Ethiopia, he said. They adopted her in July 2011, but she didn’t arrive in Frederick until January 2012, Sten said.
“It was just a very long and arduous process,” Sten said. “She really changed us a lot. All the time we got to spend with her in the last year and a half was just very special time. She lit up our whole lives.”
The family is adopting another girl from Ethiopia, he said.
Frehiwot knew her alphabet and how to count to 10 in Spanish, Sten said. She also liked to joke around.
“She was just a very caring little girl, and loving, and playful,” he said.
Police said the girl had just arrived at the park when she got out of the car through a rear passenger door and ran before her father could secure her.
“It was just a horrific perfect storm,” Amy said.
She said their daughter was excited to see her brothers play lacrosse and that’s why she took off running.
A Honda Pilot driven by Kathleen L. Heister was turning left toward the park exit when she heard a noise as the child ran into the passenger side of her SUV and fell to the ground. She stopped immediately when she realized she had struck the child, police said.
The Carroll Manor Recreation Council will hold a short memorial service for Frehiwot at 5:55 p.m. today before the scheduled baseball games at the Carroll Manor Elementary School fields, according to Perry Perret, council vice president. Those interested in attending are asked to be at the field at about 5:30.
Part of the ceremony will involve releasing balloons in the colors of the Ethiopian flag, Perret said.
Perret said the Olsson family has long been involved with the council through the lacrosse program.
Recent nationwide statistics show that 2-year-olds are the most likely of all children under 10 to be killed in crashes where they were not riding in a vehicle, which include those where the child was either walking or on a bicycle.
In 2011, the most recent year for which figures were available, 158 children under 10 died as a result of such crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of those, 32 were 2-year-olds, 12 more than the next highest age group, 3-year-olds.
In 2010, 38 of the 224 children under 10 killed were 2-year-olds, also the largest group among those fatalities. Two children under 10 died from such crashes in Maryland in both 2010 and 2011, neither of whom was 2 years old.
The family will be receiving friends at Stauffer Funeral Home Wednesday from 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. The funeral home is located at 1621 Opossumtown Pike.
A memorial service will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. at Mountain View Community Church, located at 8330 Fingerboard Road. Lunch at the Urbana Volunteer Fire Co. will follow.
A private burial will follow lunch at Resthaven Memorial Gardens.
Follow Brian Englar and Pete McCarthy on Twitter: @brianenglar, @FNP_Pete.