Police identify Olympic High School sophomore killed trying to catch bus

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Police are still investigating days after a high school student was hit and killed by an SUV in southwest Charlotte.

Authorities said the collision happened around 6 a.m. Tuesday on Buckthorne Ridge Lane, near Youngblood Road off Highway 49.

On Wednesday, police identified the student as Zoe Deen, a 15-year-old sophomore at Olympic High School.

Investigators said a man who was driving a Nissan Murano was traveling east on Youngblood Road toward Capps Road when the crossover SUV struck Deen, who was crossing Youngblood Road toward Buckthorn Ridge Road to board a bus.

A parent said her son told her what he saw.

"He said she was running down the street to get to the next stop and when she did there was a car traveling and hit her and she flew in the air and landed in front of the bus,” said the parent who didn’t want to be identified.

Deen was a sophomore at the school and was active in Junior ROTC.

Students said when they arrived at school, the principal got on the intercom to inform them of the tragic news.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School officials said they are going over the incident with police and reviewing bus stop safety procedures with students.

A woman told Channel 9 her son was on the bus and witnessed Deen get hit by the SUV.

"I received a phone call early this morning at 6 a.m. from (my son) screaming, 'Mom, someone got hit. What are we gonna do?’ It was just pretty horrific,” parent Joyce Matthews said.

Her son said it appeared the girl had missed the bus and was running to catch it at the next stop when she was struck, though police and Charlotte-Mecklenburg School officials have not confirmed that.

School district officials said counseling support will be available to students at the school.

"We're talking to them about coping strategies, how they might support themselves or work with friends and family to make sure they have the additional supports that they're in need of,” said Cotrane Penn, with CMS Student Services.

Matthews picked up her son Camaron, a ninth-grader at Olympic High School, from the police department after the crash. Camaron was on a nearby school bus and saw the girl get hit.

“I don't know what to feel. I felt very sad for them. It could have happened to anybody,” Joyce Matthews said.

Police blocked off Youngblood Road between Buckthorne Ridge Lane and Daufuskie Drive while they investigated.

Speed does not appear to be a factor, but police believe visibility might have been an issue.

Parent Emily Cox said it's pitch-black at the bus stop early in the morning. There are no streetlights and Deen was not wearing reflective clothing.

"I was afraid something like this would happen," Cox said.

Parents said they've tried to get the bus stop moved but said their complaints to the district fell on deaf ears.

Police said the road the girl was crossing when she was hit has no streetlights, no crosswalk, and no pedestrian signal.

CMS officials told Channel 9 the district received two complaints about an unsafe school bus stop on the road Tuesday. Other than that, they haven't had any complaints in the past four years.

On Wednesday, CMPD encouraged neighbors to speak up about roads they consider unsafe.

"We encourage anyone, if they feel there is something with lighting traffic safety, you have to speak up," said Rob Tufano with CMPD.

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