Woman on cellphone fatally struck 4-year-old at Harvey school playground: police

A woman was talking on her cellphone while driving when she fatally struck a 4-year-old girl at an elementary school playground in south suburban Harvey last September, police said Friday.

Swaleha Vhora drove over a curb and through a fence, hitting a swing set and striking Violet Singleton the afternoon of Sept. 8 while she was playing outside Whittier Elementary School at 71 E. 152nd St., Harvey Police Deputy Chief Cameron Bidding’s said at a news conference.

Vhora was charged with reckless homicide this week, Biddings said. She was released from custody after family posted her $30,000 bail.

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Witnesses told investigators that Vhora was talking on her phone as she was driving, Biddings said. The FBI was able to collect her cellphone records to pinpoint her location and confirm it was in use at the time of the crash.

Swaleha Vhora drove over a curb and through a fence, hitting a swing set and striking Violet Singleton the afternoon of Sept. 8 while she was playing outside Whittier Elementary School at 71 E. 152nd St., Harvey Police Deputy Chief Cameron Bidding’s (Google)

"This tragedy did not have to happen," Biddings said. "It was a horrific reminder of what can happen when people drive distracted. Violet Singleton should not be dead."

Vhora had picked up a child from the school just before the crash, and two other young children were in her Hyundai Elantra when she struck Violet, Detective Andrew Wallace said.

Vhora was initially arrested at the scene of the crash but was later released without charges because police were still investigating the situation and "investigations take time," Biddings said.

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"We pray that this never happens to any other children in the city of Harvey or anywhere else," Biddings said.