The moment came and went in a flash.
“I looked to my left, I just saw the front of the Jeep — it just rammed me,” Tyrone Belton said. “I really thought my kids made it across the street.”
But they hadn’t — Belton, his 8-year-old daughter Faith and 6-year-old daughter Heavyn were all struck while walking in the crosswalk at Wheeler Road and Mississippi Avenue in Southeast D.C. on National Walk to School Day. Police said it happened approximately 9:15 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 6.
Belton had a broken ankle, Faith had a broken leg, and Heavyn will require surgeries for facial injuries, the father said.
The driver was charged at the scene with several violations.
Thankfully, they’re all home, and Belton is trying to help them recover from the trauma. He said both daughters have been quiet and subdued.
“It’s kind of hard to see them like that. They literally will put a smile on your face, and you don’t even have to know them,” he said. “They will light up your world.”
Still, he understands his daughters have just gone through a dramatic — and traumatic — experience.
“I’m hurt, as a man, so I can just imagine what my kids are going through,” Belton said.
One daughter has been reluctant to go outside, preferring to be at her grandmother’s house: “She’s got all her cousins over there, to comfort her,” Belton said.
He has been overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers on a GoFundMe page he set up.
“I just want to be able to give them whatever they need, and let them be able to do whatever they want to try to take their mind off things. Even if it’s just for the moment. I just want to see them smile again,” said Belton.
As of Monday morning, more than 1,000 donors had pledged more than $45,000 — far exceeding the $5,000 goal he had set.
“Truly, I appreciate all that love they’ve been showing my kids,” Belton said. “I’ve never seen that from just random people, who don’t even know me or my kids.”
While the financial contributions will help pay for some distractions for his children, “I honestly felt more good about reading all the comments than seeing the money,” he said. “Just reading those comments — I felt it in my spirit.”