News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012
EVANS, Ga. -- It was an emotional day as reality began to set in for the family of Makenna Arildsen.
Her grandfather says she just lit up a room every time she walked through the door, and he still can't believe she's gone.
"She was a joy in my life. She was my buddy. I don't know what I'm gonna do without her," Sidney Kirkendohl said.
Words from a devastated grandfather after 12-year-old Makenna was hit by a car Friday afternoon.
He says she and her sister were trying to cross Washington Road to get a drink at Walmart when the accident happened.
"I'm not even mad about what they were doing. It's just I wish they hadn't done it, but they're kids -- 12 and 13," he said.
"It was just so out of her character to go somewhere without permission, too. Just so out of her character," said close friend Fred Street.
One thing that was in character for this little girl -- horses.
"She had that same love of horses that I did," Street said.
"Papa Fred" is what she called Fred, and he was the one who taught her how to ride.
He and her grandfather worked at Fred's Stylon for more than 30 years together.They say one horse stole her heart the way she stole theirs.
"I had a horse that was 34 years old. Her name was Brown Sugar, and [Makenna] fell in love with Brown Sugar," Street said.
"She'd call me most of the time on Sunday, usually every Sunday and say, can we see you today? And of course, I knew that meant go to the farm," Kirkendohl said.
Even though Makenna won't be calling the farm anymore, Kirkendohl says he hopes her accident is a warning to other kids who may try the same thing.
"If the children and her classmates will take note on how dangerous it is, these situations are and do what her parents tell you," he said.
With broken hearts, this family is trying to make sense of what happened, but one thing gives them comfort.
"I know she is in heaven," her grandfather said.
"She's riding him -- riding Brown Sugar now," Street said tearfully.
The driver of the car was a 54-year-old woman. No charges will be filed against the driver.