Family donates organs of 5-year-old girl killed in hit-and-run, saving 5 lives

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A community is mourning after a 5-year-old girl died days after a hit-and-run collision at a Union County soccer field.

The incident happened on Oct. 3 around 3:15 p.m. on Houndscroft Road near the Fieldstone Farms Housing Development off Poplin Road near Indian Trail.

Deputies said the driver of the car jumped a curb, hitting 5-year-old Olivia Grace Melendez before driving away.

Melendez was taken to a local hospital, where she died on Wednesday.

Authorities were initially searching for a silver or gray Nissan Altima, but Union County Chief Communications Officer Tony Underwood said the suspect later turned himself in.

Troopers said the suspect in the case is a juvenile and will be charged with felony hit-and-run as well as careless and reckless driving. Because of their age, troopers can’t release their name or any other information about them.

Melendez attended Poplin Elementary. Channel 9 crews visited the school Saturday and her name was painted on the school spirit rock.

It said, “Rest in Peace Olivia Grace” and depicted gold wings and a halo. The school said other families had reserved the rock this week, but they gave it up so the school could support Melendez and her family.

Family friends described Melendez as a “bubbly spirit” who was always smiling.

“It’s just heartbreaking and one thing that I’m going to hold on to is just seeing that smile. She always smiled," friend Durand Bivens said.

The girl’s family told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon her organs were donated to change and save the lives of five people. Her heart was donated to someone in New York, her kidney went to someone in Indiana and her lungs were donated to someone in North Carolina.

“As I listened to her little heartbeat, when someone dies their heartbeat stops, but I knew hers was going to keep going but in the capsule of someone else,” her aunt Melissa Cornarroe said.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.