Two by two, relatives of an 11-year-old North Bellport girl who was critically injured when she was struck by a car on Station Road went quietly into her hospital room Saturday after her extensive surgery.
"They come for support and to respect my daughter's life," Keenya Burwell, the mother of Khalima Jones, wrote on a notepad as she and other family members kept vigil in the pediatric intensive care unit at Stony Brook University Medical Center. The mother is deaf.
"I keep telling her to stay strong," Burwell wrote of her daughter, who just finished sixth grade at Bellport Middle School. "She knows that everybody loves her, and that is why she is still alive. She is fighting."
Khalima was among a group of young people walking in the roadway and was struck by a 2008 Chevrolet at about 11:40 p.m. Friday, police said. She hit the car's windshield and suffered head trauma and multiple broken bones, police said. She was taken by ambulance to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue and later moved to Stony Brook.
Lauren Staut, 17, of Bellport, the driver, was going north on Station Road in North Bellport when her vehicle hit the child, police said. Staut, who police said has a senior license, was not injured in the crash, but was treated at Brookhaven Memorial and released after a person at the scene hit her in the face.
There were two other young women in the car with her, ages 18 and 16, and neither was injured, police said.
Staut was not charged in connection with the crash, police said.
Earlier Friday evening, Khalima had been with her older brother, Shakaur Burwell, and other relatives and friends at her great-grandmother's house in North Bellport, her mother wrote. The group left to go to a nearby store to buy candy and soda and was on the way back. Khalima was the youngest in the group.
"They were all older than her. They were all watching over her," Burwell wrote. After the child was hit, Shakaur notified his mother about what had happened.
The mother described her daughter as social and well-liked by all those who know her.
"She makes friends very fast because she is very beautiful, polite, respectful and friendly," Burwell wrote. "She loves to spend time with friends, listening to music and dancing. Hip-hop music and singer Ciara are her favorites."
Saturday afternoon, Khalima was "a little OK - fifty good, fifty not good," Burwell wrote of her daughter's condition.
Burwell wrote that she planned to stay in the hospital to keep watch over her daughter.
Of Staut, she wrote, "I will not accept her apology. That is my only daughter."
With Matthew Chayes