As an attorney who’s dedicated to child safety issues, my heart sank when I read about Suk Maya Monger, the 6-year-old girl who was killed by a Lincoln Navigator SUV as she crossed the street after getting off a MARTA bus. Her family had moved to the United States from Nepal just two weeks before the accident. When the accident occurred, Suk Maya’s parents were applying for social security numbers. Neither one of them spoke English, and they didn’t have any money.
A funeral home in Decatur volunteered to cremate Suk Maya’s body and donate the cost of a memorial service. Other people have also come forward to help the grieving parents.
The driver of the SUV also came forward to surrender to his charges. Gregory Armwood, 44, was released on a $2,000 bond from Dekalb County Jail. He and his attorney refused to answer any questions. Armwood is charged with vehicular homicide and failure to exercise due carry; both of these charges are misdemeanors that carry maximum sentences of 12 months. Armwood is from Covington.
Policy say that Armwood illegally passed a stopped car and a stopped MARTA bus. Suk Maya and her mother were just stepping onto Ponce de Leon in front of the MARTA bus when Armwood allegedly made the illegal maneuver. Suk Maya died of head injury and internal injuries on Wednesday. That was the day when she would have started school at Creek Elementary School.
The Mongers relocated to the United States under a government program that provides a haven for people from countries where they are persecuted, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The Monger family was displaced from their home in Bhutan due to ethnic cleansing. Even though they had never lived in Nepal, they were of Nepalese descent and therefore made to leave Bhutan along with thousands of other families. Once in Nepal, the family lived in a hut in a refugee camp for 10 years. In the camp there were neither schools nor jobs. Refugees were not allowed to work. They depended on relief organizations for food. Suk Maya was born in this camp. Her family brought her to the United States for a new beginning, a new life. Unfortunately, that new beginning had only just begun when she was killed by what appears to have been an impatient driver.
“The mother is very, very distraught on top of a lot of other things they went through,” said Ellen Beattie, director of the International Rescue Committee. “She is very much in shock and has not been able to accept that she will never see her daughter again.”
Now that school is back in session, children are back on the streets during times of heavy traffic. If you have kids, teach them about safety on the streets. But kids don’t always remember to look both ways before crossing the street. We all have to watch out for them. Please put down your cell phone, keep your eyes on the road, drive within the designated speed limits, and watch out for children. You wouldn’t want to be in Mr. Armwood’s shoes right now.