COLUMBIA (WACH / AP) - The Richland County coroner has identified a first-grader that was struck and killed near a Midlands elementary school Wednesday.
Authorities say Joshua Brown, 7, was hit shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday. He was taken to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Witnesses said the boy was standing with a group of children at a street corner near Watkins-Nance elementary school. Police do not know if the boy was trying to cross the street. He lived about a half-mile from the school.
Francesca Hickman lives next door to Brown's family, and, on Thursday, had her children pray over a memorial that has been set up near the accident scene.
Hickman says her children don't usually walk home from school, but, on Thursday they did and she was right there beside them.
"They say 'Mom can we walk, can we walk?' And I explained to them this is why I can't have them walk by themselves going or coming," said Hickman. "I can't do it because I don't know what I would do if something was to happen to my babies."
Lucy Gordon put out the first teddy bear on the memorial Thursday morning. She's lived near the intersection where Joshua Brown was hit for 11 years. Gordon has been concerned about the area for some time. Several schools are clustered together with plenty of children walking to and from class and she wonders how something like this didn't happen sooner.
"The kids have a tendency when they're coming, where they're playing around, pushing each other in the streets. You see that all the time, constantly," said Gordon. "It's so dangerous and there's traffic going back and forth."
Gordon put up a fence years ago so her grandchildren wouldn't wander into the road. Now she and the rest of the community say they're committed to making sure another memorial isn't necessary ever again.
"I really don't think it will happen again because they're going to make sure," said Gordon. "This is a tight community, they're going to get together and we're going to do something about that."
"I did not know the little boy personally, but that is close to home because that's right next door," said Hickman.
Police say a school crossing guard who was nearby when the accident happened Wednesday afternoon tells them the truck that hit Joshua Brown was not speeding and the driver hit the brakes. Columbia police say at this point there have been no charges filed against the driver and the accident is still being investigated.
Psychologists, social workers and guidance counselors were at Watkins-Nance Elementary School on Thursday to provide support for students and staff.
Flags outside the school also flew at half-mast in memory of Brown.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)