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Bellingham honors toddler killed in crash with memorial, songs, prayer

Tears stream down the face of Bellingham High teacher Kara Bezanson as she sits at a memorial to two-year-old Anna Brulotte on the corner of Cornwall Ave. and Virginia St. Friday afternoon October 1, 2010 in Bellingham. The toddler was killed Thursday when she was struck by a car.
Tears stream down the face of Bellingham High teacher Kara Bezanson as she sits at a memorial to two-year-old Anna Brulotte on the corner of Cornwall Ave. and Virginia St. Friday afternoon October 1, 2010 in Bellingham. The toddler was killed Thursday when she was struck by a car. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

BELLINGHAM - Candles, flowers and stuffed animals piled up near Assumption Catholic School Friday, Oct. 1, where a toddler was killed Thursday when she was struck by a car.

Anna Brulotte, 2, was holding her mother's hand while crossing Virginia Street when a car slammed into another car, pushing it into the family.

The mother, Melissa Brulotte, was injured. Her two other children, an 8-year-old girl and 5-year-old boy, were not hurt.

A 17-year-old Bellingham High School student is under investigation of vehicular homicide for allegedly causing the crash, said Bellingham Police spokesman Mark Young. Police declined to release her name.

The student has been released to her parents, Young said. The case is still under investigation; once that's complete it will be forwarded to the Whatcom County Prosecutor's Office for review and to determine any charges to be filed against the driver.

A private prayer service was held Friday morning at Assumption, with hundreds in attendance, including the Brulotte family.

At the makeshift memorial, which began to form Thursday evening, four women from the Bellingham Threshold Choir sang softly for about an hour Friday afternoon.

"I chose songs that I thought fit the best and bring light and love," said Mathilda Wheeler, member of the roughly 30-person choir. "One of the songs is called 'You are Loved.' Just because life was cut short doesn't mean it wasn't a full life."

Wheeler said the flowers, candles and stuffed animals that proliferated at the memorial site were a sign of the community's support.

"It's a terrible tragedy," Wheeler said. "I think (the memorial) signifies that everyone's thinking and mourning with the family and the drivers involved. I think it feels good to bring something. We brought song."

Bellingham resident Carl Blankenship, 66, was one of many people to stop by the memorial and pay his respects. While Blankenship said he didn't know anyone involved in the tragedy, he said he felt its impacts.

"We're all connected," Blankenship said. "There's some things we just don't understand. It's one of those things where you just go, 'why?' "

A vigil service for Anna will be held at the Church of the Assumption, 2116 Cornwall Ave., at 7 p.m. Oct. 7.

The accident happened about 2:40 p.m. Thursday. According to police, a black Ford sedan traveling north on Cornwall Avenue was going to take a right turn onto Virginia Street but stopped to let Melissa Brulotte and her three children cross Virginia. A silver Volkswagen Jetta driven by the Bellingham High School student slammed into the sedan, pushing it into the mom and her daughter.

Anna was dragged about 5 or 6 feet and died at the scene. Melissa Brulotte was treated at St. Joseph hospital for minor injuries and released.

The driver of the black sedan, a 22-year-old woman, was shaken up but not injured, Young said. She is not being charged.

The teen driver was temporarily distracted when the crash happened, Young said, but he did not provide further details about why she was distracted. At this point, police do not believe she was using a cell phone at the time, Young said. They also don't believe she was under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.

Investigators are trying to determine how fast the Jetta was traveling when it hit the sedan.

Although Bellingham is considering adding cameras in school zones to catch speeders, this area is not one of the two areas planned for them.


BENEFIT FUND

A benefit fund for the Brulotte family has been set up at Banner Bank. People can donate to any Banner Bank branch in Whatcom County.

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