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Charlotte, North Carolina Teen Kills Two Pedestrians While Reaching for Cell Phone

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A teenage driver has been charged after police say she struck and killed a father and daughter and seriously injured a 1-year-old boy Wednesday morning in a southwest Charlotte neighborhood. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police charged the eighteen year old driver from Clemmons, North Carolina (N.C.) with two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle.

The victims were identified Thursday morning by police as Ji Sheng Lu, 67, and his 37-year-old daughter, Jing Lu. The name of Jing Lu's son was not released. Ji Sheng Lu's most recent address is in New York City, and Jing Lu lived on Cedar Crossings Drive, about a half-mile from where the two were hit. It is not clear if Ji Sheng Lu was visiting his daughter or was living in Charlotte.

The deadly pedestrian crash happened around 11:30 a.m. on Corsica Forest Drive, off South Tryon Street in the Steele Creek area. Police said Ji Sheng Lu and Jing Lu were pushing the woman's 1-year-old son in a stroller as they walked with traffic in the road, close to the curb. The teen approached, driving a 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix, police said, and became distracted when something fell to the floorboard. She struck the pedestrians from behind, according to police.

Authorities said Ji Sheng Lu died at the scene, a residential area just in front of the Enclave at Rivergate apartments and not far from the Huntington Forest subdivision. His daughter was airlifted with life-threatening injuries to Carolinas Medical Center, police said. She died around 7 p.m. as a result of her injuries.

The child was taken by ambulance with serious injuries to CMC, where he remained hospitalized Thursday.Bauer was not injured.At midday, a mangled stroller lay alongside the road near a sidewalk. A shoe was in the road and the Pontiac's windshield was shattered.A witness told Observer news partner WCNC-TV that he saw the driver swerve and strike the pedestrians.Neighbors complained that people often speed along Corsica Forest Drive.

Carmen Cruz, a former sheriff's deputy from New York, was at home when she heard about the wreck on TV and realized it had happened in front of her apartment complex. She spoke to a witness who said it appeared the driver reached for something in her car before the collision. Cruz said she thought the pedestrians lived nearby, and neighbors told her they had seen them out walking before.Cruz saw that Bauer was visibly distraught in the back of a police car."I hope people aren't quick to condemn this girl," she said. "I think she's got enough to do, dealing with her own guilt."

Police are still investigating the wreck, and more charges could be filed after police reconstruct the scene as part of their investigation.Police said the investigation will focus on the speed at which the teenage girl was traveling before - and during - the wreck. Corsica Forest Drive has a posted 25 mph speed limit.


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