“Don’t die on me!”
You can imagine a soldier yelling those desperate words to a wounded comrade on some gritty battlefield, half a world away.
Yesterday, they were uttered by 8-year-old Eryca Bradfield to her twin sister, Kaitlyn, moments after both girls were mowed down by a heartless hit-and-run driver in Crescentville, a relative of the youngsters said.
The adorable, inseparable sisters were on their way to a corner store on Cheltenham Avenue near Colgate Street about 3:30 p.m. when they were struck by a gray Lincoln Town Car that sped from the scene, police officials said.
Eryca, amazingly, suffered only bumps and bruises, said her aunt, Dorothea Ball. She was expected to be released from St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, where she was treated for minor injuries.
Kaitlyn was not as lucky.
Police said the Lincoln rolled over the little girl, leaving tire marks on her clothes and abdomen. She was listed in critical condition last night at St. Christopher’s.
A number of local residents chased after the fleeing motorist and jotted down the Lincoln’s license plate number.
An arrest in the case was expected to come soon, an investigator said last night. Police found a car that they believe might have been involved, at Cheltenham Avenue near Summerdale Avenue.
Police said they had talked with the owner of the car but it was unclear who had been driving it.
While Kaitlyn was being monitored by doctors in an intensive care unit, her relatives tried to come to grips with the truly horrific turn of events.
“She might have some internal injuries. She has a tube down her throat, and the doctors said her stomach is distended,” said Ball.
“Everyone is devastated.”
Earlier in the day, both girls enjoyed an off day from school while they played at Ball’s house on Lawndale Avenue near Robbins Street.
Kaitlyn, the quieter of the two and a huge Hannah Montana fan, pranced around the house in a tiara, a leftover accessory from the princess costume she wore on Halloween, the aunt said.
When playtime was over, Ball said she dropped the girls off at their house on Cheltenham Avenue near Colgate Street.
Their mother, Mary Anne McIntyre, was home, as were the girls’ brothers, Jaycob, 14, and Jayson, 10, Ball noted. Their father, Eric Bradfield, was not at home.
“My husband gave them both a dollar, so they were pretty excited,” Ball said.
“I think they just decided to walk to the corner store near their house to buy something.”
Ball said she and other relatives frequently warn the girls about being mindful of cars that sometimes speed down residential streets. As a safety precaution, the sisters learned to hold hands when they crossed the street.
Ball said the girls were probably arm-in-arm on their way to the store yesterday.
In an instant, everything changed, and the girls — second-graders at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School — became victims of a painfully violent crime.
“Eryca said to her sister, ‘Don’t die on me!’ Those two, they’re inseparable,” Ball said.
“How do people sleep at night? How can you run over two little girls?”
“Don’t die on me!”