Turning stones into beautiful rocks for a killed 8-year-old’s grieving family

Reporter: Taylor Petras
Published: Updated:
8-year-old girl in a hit-and-run crash Monday morning. (Credit: Aiken Family)
8-year-old girl in a hit-and-run crash Monday morning. (Credit: Aiken Family)

A collection of plain stones, only to be turned into something beautiful as people of all ages are volunteering to paint these rocks for Layla Aiken’s grieving family.

“Layla loved purple and pink, so a lot is purple and pink,” said Brittany Schwartz, a friend of Layla’s mother. “She loved cats. They are a Boston strong family, so a lot of people have done Boston. This one is a Patriot rock.”

It is all in honor of Layla. Layla, 8, was hit and killed while she was waiting at her bus stop in the morning on March 25. Authorities have found a vehicle, but are still searching for the hit-and-run driver.

“I just look at my babies and I literally cry every day thinking like, ‘what if this were to happen to my child’ and I just cannot imagine what she’s going through,” Brittany said.

Brittany helped organize the rock painting effort. The painted rocks will be placed in the Aiken’s backyard.

“Cat and Layla really wanted to build a garden and never got to it,” Brittany said. “This is just so amazing that I can kinda start something that was never started.”

The rock garden was made possible by dozens of people in a grieving community. People set up paint stations at work.

The tragedy is hitting close to home for some. Samantha Artym, 13, was hit by a car when she was 7-years-old.

“I’m just hoping it brings happiness to their heart to know the community is standing behind them and Layla and that family and those little boys have touched so many hearts,” Brittany said.

Hearts that are now fighting for changes as a City Council meeting near 4:30 p.m. will have parents pushing for better safety measures at school bus stops to prevent the tragedy from happening again and tearing apart more families.

“Even if this was an accident and this guy like,” said Brittany, pausing as tears streamed down her face. “It’s not safe and they need to do something to make change.”

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