Candlelight vigil for 4-year-old killed by car at Arcadia daycare

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4-year-old car crash victim Maleena Valdez. Courtesy of her family.

A community is in mourning after a little girl was killed in a crash while playing on the playground at an Arcadia daycare.

Since Thursday morning, neighbors and loved ones have been bringing balloons, flowers and stuffed animals to line the fence in front of the playground at Imagination Station Learning Center at 726 E. Magnolia St., where 4-year-old Maleena Valdez was killed. At 5:30 p.m. Friday night, they will be holding a candlelight vigil for Maleena and for the other child injured in the crash.

On Wednesday, Maleena and a 5-year-old were playing in the playground when they were hit by a car that drove through the daycare’s fence. Maleena’s grandmother, Josephine Valdez, says she is going to miss the playful, happy and loving 4-year-old.

“Oh my God, I miss her so much, this shouldn’t have even happened,” Valdez said. “It did. Only God knows why. All she was doing was playing in the playground, being a little girl like all the other children, but why this tragedy… all we can say is, ‘Why, why Maleena?’ We just want her back.”

Maleena’s family and friends will hold her in their thought Friday night, thinking about the little girl they wish they had more time with.

“Very smart, very, very smart,” Valdez said. “She was very petite. She loved the phone, YouTube. Very playful, loving. Sometimes she had a mean mug look, right? Oh my God.”

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the other child suffered serious injuries from the crash but may be released sometime on Friday.

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