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Girl Dies of Injuries After Being Struck by SUV

Hailey Ratliff was riding her bike home from Sinaloa Middle School when she was hit on Novato Boulevard, a few hundred yards from her home.

Tears flowed in Novato as word got out that a 12-year-old girl died Thursday evening of injuries suffered when she was struck by an SUV while riding her bike home from school at around 3 p.m.

The Marin County coroner's office identified the Novato girl who died Thursday afternoon when her bicycle collided with an SUV as Hailey Ratliff. Coroner's office Lt. Keith Boyd said an autopsy was scheduled for Friday. 

Through a series of messages sent to Novato Patch and notes posted to Facebook, the victim has been identified as Hailey Ratliff, a Sinaloa Middle School student who moved to Novato over the summer with her family from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Several people who identified themselves as her relatives posted "rest in peace" messages on their Facebook pages Thursday night and sent messages to Novato Patch asking for prayers for the family.

"She is our niece and we love her very much — such a pretty loving little girl who had a very bright future," wrote her aunt, Laura McCarty. "Her father and mother are wonderful people they are very giving and loving. She will be truly missed forever. RIP we all love you."

Another relative, Crystal Ratliff-Chavez, wrote: "Thank you all for your prayers and concerns. This sweet and beautiful little girl was my niece. She ended up passing this afternoon. My brother and family are new to the area. We really appreciate the support from the community. Thank you all for the love and support you continue to show."

The Novato Police Department confirmed the death in a release at 8:55 p.m. A nursing supervisor at Oakland Children's Hospital referred a call about Ratliff's health to the Alameda County Coroner's Office.

At 2:59 p.m. Thursday, Novato police and fire officials responded to the crash site on Novato Boulevard just west of San Marin High School and just east of Sandy Creek Way. Ratliff was riding west on Novato Boulevard west of Sutro Avenue when she was struck in the roadway by an eastbound SUV around 3 p.m., Novato police said.

Welch said the child was on a bike, was struck just in front of a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. substation. Ratliff was rushed to Novato Community Hospital and was then flown to Oakland Children's Hospital and Research Center, where she died at about 5:30 p.m., Welch said. 

The driver of the SUV, a man who was not identified by police, remained on scene after the accident and cooperated with the investigation, Welch said. There were no signs of impairment or traffic violations, according to the early report.

The cause of the collision has not been identified. More information about the collision will be available early next week as the traffic unit continues its investigation, Welch said. Any witnesses are asked to contact Novato police at 897-4361.

Investigators will work with the Marin County Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division, Welch said. 

Shalee Cunningham, superintendent of the Novato Unified School District, said counseling would be available for students and staff Friday at the nearby schools.

"Our heart-felt thoughts are with the family," she wrote in a release.

--Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

Melissa Ayotte September 28, 2012 at 08:50 PM
As I drove to the site to drop flowers off today I was tailgated by a large truck. Please, my fellow Novato drivers, in honor of this precious angel, lets all remember to drive with love in our hearts, to never use our phones AT ALL while driving and to slow WAY DOWN during the hours that children are traveling to and from school. Please, I am really begging you all..... Rest in peace little one.
Khalil Haji September 28, 2012 at 09:45 PM
I am in 8th grade at Sinaloa and at school we had a whole day of grieving for her. This is really sad and I can't imagine what here family is going through. RIP Hailey. We will miss you.
Mike Clancy September 28, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Tom, You do not have the correct information. Hailey was traveling westbound and turned into the traffic lane toward her street. She was struck in that lane. The eastbound SUV veered sharply to the left in an avoidance move, crossed the center line and stopped in that lane. This was a sad and tragic accident for Hailey and the driver of the SUV, as well as all of us. Mike Clancy, Novato
Hamilton Parent September 28, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Mike S. D, really? Are you that cold and insensitive that you have to use this site, at this moment, which is so close to this tragedy, to speak about your concerns? How about we have some sympathy for this young child and her family? And let’s not forget about the driver? We don’t know all the details but regardless, how do you think he is feeling right now? I am sure you don’t want to be in his situation right now and based on your comments, I am sure you haven’t thought that far out. Her family is grief stricken and the driver will have to live with this on his conscious for the rest of his life. How about you choose a better avenue to speak about your concerns at a time that is more appropriate? I am also a Hamilton resident but that means nothing right now. I have a child that once rode their bike to middle school, only because the district cut funding for the school bus even though I paid a portion of that. All I can think about is how fortunate I am that my child arrived at school and back at home safely each day. The thought that my child could have been in the same situation as Hailey breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes. (Part 2 to follow)
Hamilton Parent September 28, 2012 at 09:53 PM
PART 2: I don’t know Hailey or her family but the mere thought brings tears to my eyes. And all you wrote about is YOUR concerns about speeding? Have a heart and wait until the appropriate time and avenue to express your opinions. My comments here don’t address your concerns as being right or wrong but rather how insensitive they are due to your timing. You should be ashamed of yourself but perhaps you don’t have a young child or you haven’t had one yet that has had to go to school on their own because there is no school bus or their parent(s) have to work to provide a living for the family so they can’t take their child to work. I have received the Novato Patch for years and never once replied or made a comment until now. That is how sickening your message was to me. I would like to stay positive and just assume you made an innocent mistake, but honesty, that is hard for me to swallow as you wrote two notes, both of which, in my opinion are inappropriate at this time. How about you explain the situation about Hailey to some of your friends and family then tell them what you wrote let’s see their honest response and I think you will be a little more grounded and thus sensitive. No parent should ever have to grieve over the death of their child.
Kathleen September 28, 2012 at 10:27 PM
I just read all the comments after mine and I have to say unless you know the area, know the trees, the turns, etc, please stop talking about the driver not paying attention. It would be almost impossible to see someone on that side of the road in some places. Please leave him alone and hold him in prayer. Some of the comments make me cringe they are so hateful and hurtful.
Hamilton Parent September 28, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Hi Everyone, Kathleen is right. Making judgment now or later has no useful purpose in this situation. Stop for a second and think about how you might feel if YOU were the driver. Then stop and think about how you might feel if YOU were the parent. Neither situation is positive or easy to deal with. Everyone loses here so how about we support them both during this difficult time?
Tiffy Duck September 28, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Prayers to the family. Rest in peace Hailey and you will be miss. Even though I never have the pleasure to meet you but my daughter who attend Novato Youth Center mentioned about you. My heart go out to the family.
Tom September 28, 2012 at 10:50 PM
I too went by the site today, and was tail-gated and passed on the 2-lane near Sandy Drive towards Stafford. I can't fathom the idiots who are racing through school zones at 3:00 in the afternoon. If that driver was doing 25 this would have been avoided.
Hamilton Parent September 28, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I am dumbfounded by some of these comments. Both the driver and Hailey’s family are going through an incredibly hard time right now. Can we save the judgments for a later date? Remember what our parents said when we were growing up? If you don’t have something nice to say, then DON’T say anything at all. This is no time for finger pointing. This is time for support. Now I know why I don’t respond to situations such as this because I get too emotionally involved and can’t deal with the negative comments from those who don’t have any facts. And from those who are so insensitive they can’t keep quiet during the most difficult of times. For those, I hope you never have to go through what Hailey’s family and the driver are going through right now. If you were or had, you would definitely not be happy if you read comments like yours. I am done with my comments and will delete my Patch account immediately.
Christina September 28, 2012 at 11:20 PM
If only he had not been going soooo fast she might have made it. The Dog Park and San Marin are right there. It is a school zone by the school. All school zones are 25mph. Maybe if he was going 25 she would have made it or not been hit. Don't get me wrong, I feel bad for him, but I still think it could have been avoided.
Christina September 28, 2012 at 11:25 PM
At the scene they said he was going 50-60. if he would have slowed for the school zone it might not have ended this way.
Erik Fish September 28, 2012 at 11:40 PM
We are so profoundly sad for the entire Ratliff family, and send our condolences and prayers. What an unimaginable tragedy. Our love to you all.
Peter Rudy September 28, 2012 at 11:50 PM
"Without knowing the details of what happened, I still have to pin the blame on the driver." Sheer brilliance.
Jeni September 29, 2012 at 12:06 AM
We are so very saddened for Hailey, her family and friends, the driver and everyone who witnessed this horrible tragedy. I feel for every one of them. My heartfelt condolences to everyone involved.
Erik September 29, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Guys, you're right that I haven't seen the police report and don't know the details of what happened. My point is that when you get behind the wheel of your car, it's your responsibility to watch out for kids and drive at speeds such that if something happens, you have time to avoid a crash. If you can't see around a corner far enough to safely avoid hitting something if it comes into your path, then you're going too fast. Point taken, however, that we need to hear the final police report before jumping to conclusions, and it's innocent until proven guilty. I do feel terrible for the driver as well. Let's all drive safely out there folks.
Richard Bianchi September 29, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Yes, prayers for the loss of Hailey & the driver who will live with this tragic accident . May God bless all who are suffering.
Nancy Walker September 29, 2012 at 03:39 AM
As a former resident of Novato, a city I will always call home, even though we have moved, I can't stop thinking of the loss of this child. Our daughter is a teacher at Sinaola and this has affected everyone of the staff and students at the school. PLEASE everyone drive more carefully and think when you are behind the wheel, it could have been you, SLOW DOWN. Our prayers to both familes. Nancy Walker
Robin and Jeff September 29, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Drivers of cars need to slow down bottom line!!! Too many accidents happen with cars hitting Bicyclist and Motorcyclist. What is the big hurry the place your going is still going to be there when you get there or leave earlier don't be in such a hurry!!! My heart and prayers go out to this family.
Dave Fritz September 29, 2012 at 04:16 AM
As a Sinaloa Alumni, I'm particularily shocked. I need more info. God bless the driver, the victim and her family! I know there is a greater purpose. Love
Peter Rudy September 29, 2012 at 04:44 AM
"Let's all drive safely out there folks." Now there is a thought we can agree on, Erik. Such a sad story. Lots of heavy hearts in Marin tonight.
The Matsumoto Family September 29, 2012 at 07:06 AM
We are deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy and extend our thoughts and prayers to the Ratliff family, our neighbors. Hailey was a treasure to be cherished and will be missed by the entire community.
Gram September 30, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Yes, she was a treasure to my family on Sandy Creek, also, but love never dies!
Ginny Sisneeros October 01, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Ginny & Lewis Sisneros An angel wipes her mother's tears, tenderly kisses her father's forhead, and wraps her arms around her brothers to comfort them. We are deeply saddened by your tragic loss. The Seville neighborhood will always remember her precious smile.
Ginny Sisneeros October 01, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Ginny & Lewis Sisneros An angel wipes her mother's tears, tenderly kisses her father's forhead, and wraps her arms around her brothers to comfort them. We are deeply saddened by your tragic loss. The Seville neighborhood will always remember her beautiful smile.
eve harris October 04, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I have never found a follow up story here or in the IJ. What did the investigation conclude? Did he go into the bike lane or did she go into the road in front of him? The damage to the front of his Yukon was shocking to think of the impact.
Gigi Cruz October 04, 2012 at 03:42 PM
@ Eve Harris I've been waiting for the same thing. I wonder why we haven't heard anything further about this case?
Novatan October 05, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Yes, where is the followup to this story, and also the one about the suspected drunk-driving fire captain that crashed less than a mile from this location? We need to know how to keep that dangerous stretch of road safer. Were these drivers under the influence? Distracted? Please update!
oblio October 05, 2012 at 04:28 PM
If we don't use our judgement, we continue to make the same mistakes people made before us. We need to know what happened in this accident so we can learn from the situation and not repeat it, and teach our children to exercise good judgement as well. The longer the cops sit on their accident report, the more people are going to speculate as to what happened and who was at fault.
Rosemary Peeters October 07, 2012 at 09:34 PM
I, too, pray for the family and for drivers to take that "extra measure of caution" as you mentioned, Emory. We did not know her, but she is in our hearts. The Peeters

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