Rocky Mount, N.C. — The grandfather of a 7-year-old Rocky Mount girl who was killed while crossing the road Thursday morning says he has no hard feelings toward the truck driver who hit her.
Janell Simmons, a first-grader at G.W. Bulluck Elementary School, was crossing N.C. Highway 43 between Nobles Mill Pond and Clover roads shortly before 7 a.m., thinking that a passing bus was hers, troopers said.
Instead, she walked into the path of a 2002 Ford pickup truck, driven by Eddie Suggs of Rocky Mount. Suggs told troopers he saw the bus coming and started to slow down but that he did not see Janell until it was too late. She was taken to Nash General Hospital, where she died.
Troopers did not charged Suggs, who was driving under the speed limit – 45 mph in a 55 mph zone – at the time of the crash.
Janell was waiting for the bus, along with three of her siblings, who all lived with their grandparents. Danny Simmons, her grandfather, said he heard about the crash after getting out of the shower.
"I ran out into the road where she was at and found my little baby laying in the ditch," he said.
Simmons remembered his granddaughter as a little girl who "liked having a good time, singing (and) making people laugh."
"She always wanted to make a difference in someone’s life, always found some way to make a joke out of something. I call her my little joker," he said.
Simmons says he doesn't blame Suggs for Janell's death.
“I felt his pain. There’s no hard feelings. We all lost today," Simmons said.