A crowd gathers in Lewiston on Thursday night for a vigil for Jayden Cho-Sargent, an eighth-grader who was killed Thursday morning while crossing Main Street about a block from his home.

A crowd gathers in Lewiston on Thursday night for a vigil for Jayden Cho-Sargent, an eighth-grader who was killed Thursday morning while crossing Main Street about a block from his home. Photos by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

A 13-year-old student on his way to Lewiston Middle School died Thursday morning after being hit by a pickup truck on Main Street.

Jayden Cho-Sargent, an eighth-grader, was crossing Main Street at Frye Street around 7:15 a.m. when he was hit by a Ford F-150 driven by Laurie Young of South Paris, Lewiston police said. Jayden was about a block from his home when he was hit while in the crosswalk. He died at the scene.

Young, 54, was driving outbound on Main Street and failed to see the boy in the crosswalk until he was right in front of the truck, said Lewiston Police Lt. Mark Cornelio. She quickly applied the brakes, but the boy was dragged more than a car length, police said. Young was too distraught to call 911, so a passer-by notified emergency responders.

Young remained at the scene and is cooperating with the investigation. She agreed to have blood drawn for an alcohol and drug test, which is standard for fatal motor-vehicle accidents, Cornelio said. The blood analysis will be performed by the Maine State Police Crime Lab.

At Lewiston Middle School, Jayden Cho-Sargent was known for his humor and kindness and for being "a good kid." Photo courtesy of the family

At Lewiston Middle School, Jayden Cho-Sargent was known for his humor and kindness and for being “a good kid.” Photo courtesy of the family Photo courtesy of the family

Young’s driving record shows no crashes in the past 10 years, and she had credits for four years without an incident, according to state records. In 2005, she was the driver in a one-car slide-off accident in Paris in which snow-covered roads and speed were a factor. No one was injured.

Together with the accident reconstruction, determining whether the case warrants charges against Young will take some time, Cornelio said.

“We’re going to have to wait for everything,” he said.

Breanna Maloney, 26, had been in her office at Physician Billing and Consulting on Main Street for a little more than 10 minutes Thursday morning when she heard the commotion outside. At first she shrugged off the noise, since Main Street is a busy street in Lewiston, but when she went to the window she saw a small backpack and colored pencils strewn across the pavement.

That’s when she knew someone had been struck and that the victim was a child.

When she moved to another window, she saw police speaking with a woman she believed was Jayden’s mother, who broke down, howling in agony.

“I can’t even replicate the sound that came out of her mouth,” Maloney said. “She just kept saying, ‘My baby, my baby, my baby.’ I don’t want to ever imagine that kind of heartbreak.”

‘REST IN PARADISE, JAYDEN’

On Thursday night, Jayden’s father, Matt Foley, his mother, Kellie, his aunt Korena Cho, and his four brothers were among the roughly 200 people who attended a candlelight vigil for Jayden at Lewiston Middle School.

Amanda Dennett, one of Jayden’s classmates, accepted a hug from a friend as the crowd was filing into the school’s auditorium.

“He was a good kid,” she said. “Quite popular, actually.”

Dennett said Jayden was also funny “in every way.” When she dyed her hair blue, she recalled, he started calling her “Sparkle.”

Robin Stidworthy, a guidance counselor at the school, said the students have been “really wonderfully compassionate toward one another, and shocked and saddened.”

She remembers Jayden as being “kind, sweet, thoughtful, gentle. It’s tragic.”

As students and parents entered the auditorium, many stopped to write condolences on pink paper covering a long table that had Jayden’s picture on it. “Rest in Paradise, Jayden. You will be missed,” one student wrote.

Jake Langlais, principal of the middle school, spoke briefly in the auditorium, saying it had been “a very trying day.” He said Jayden was “always smiling” and recalled him as “a good boy doing the things he was supposed to do.”

Thursday night's vigil drew about 200 people. The family asked for 13 minutes of silence, one for each year of Jayden Cho-Sargent’s life. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Thursday night’s vigil drew about 200 people. The family asked for 13 minutes of silence, one for each year of Jayden Cho-Sargent’s life.

Langlais said the family is not yet ready to talk about their loss, but they had a message for the mourners who gathered to honor Jayden: “See the crosswalks. Take the time.”

Langlais said someone in the community is setting up a GoFundMe page for the family because so many people have asked what they can do to help. “I want to be very clear that the family has not asked for a thing,” he said.

After Langlais’ remarks and a prayer from a chaplain, the crowd filed out into the night with candles. They turned and faced the school and the family, who stood at the top of the school’s steps.

The family asked for 13 minutes of silence, one for each year of Jayden’s life. As each minute passed, one of Jayden’s four brothers rang a handbell marking the time. In between bell ringings, the street was extraordinarily quiet except for passing traffic, rain dripping from the roof and the whistle of a train passing in the distance. During the final minute, the family members raised their candles into the air.

Although a school bus serves the Cottage Street area where Jayden lived, the boy decided to walk to school Thursday morning, Cornelio said.

Car crashes at the intersection do not appear to be particularly frequent, according to police accident records.

In the past five years, there have been five accidents at Frye and Main streets, and none involved pedestrians, Cornelio said. A crossing guard has not been posted in that vicinity of Main Street since 2006, when a Catholic school there closed, and even at that time the guard was posted at Elm Street, not Frye Street, Cornelio said.

Maloney and her boss, Physician Billing and Consulting CEO Suzanne Charest, said the intersection of Main and Frye is dangerous, with drivers routinely reaching speeds of 45 or 50 mph in a zone that is marked 25 mph.

Charest, who has owned a building at that intersection for 10 years, said drivers sometimes don’t stop for pedestrians waiting to enter the crosswalk. Many times, pedestrians – often college students from nearby Bates College or younger students heading to and from school – are forced to wait for a break in traffic before they can cross.

Mary Patterson, 34, has lived on Main Street for just over a year and said she has seen about 12 fender-benders on her street. Patterson said she’s been forced to walk into traffic to get cars to stop for her children as they head to their bus stop in the morning.

Mourners embrace before Thursday's vigil. The middle school will continue to provide grief counseling Friday and Monday for students and teachers.

Mourners embrace before Thursday’s vigil. The middle school will continue to provide grief counseling Friday and Monday for students and teachers.

“It’s a horrible intersection,” Patterson said. “People are in a hurry to get to and from work and it’s a straight shot with no lights.”

Patterson said she can’t imagine the pain her neighbors are in. She said that as soon as she heard about the accident she tried to get in contact with her own children.

“All I wanted after it happened was to have my kids home with me,” Patterson said.

SCHOOL NOTIFIES STUDENTS, PARENTS

Lewiston Schools Assistant Superintendent Tom Jarvis said that as soon as school officials received the news about the accident, they activated their crisis response plan and brought grief counselors into the school for students and staff.

A robocall was sent to parents alerting them to the accident, and a student assembly for the entire school was held to inform students that one of their classmates had been killed. They did not release his name until Lewiston police did so.

A woman who identified herself as Jayden Cho-Sargent's aunt mourns his death at Thursday night's vigil. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

A woman who identified herself as Jayden Cho-Sargent’s aunt mourns his death at Thursday night’s vigil. Photos by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Langlais said students are handling the loss of their classmate well.

“I think they’ve been really respectful,” Langlais said. “Anytime you have an entire school listening, it’s humbling.”

He said he urged students and teachers to take care of one another. The school will continue to provide grief counseling Friday and Monday, and will continue assessing the need.

Students at the school were allowed to call their parents to let them know they were OK. Several parents came to see their children, and some checked them out of school for the day.

Jarvis said the district is aware that Main Street is a busy road, and bus service is provided to students in the area. The district provides crossing guards for about a one-block radius around Governor James B. Longley Elementary School because that school does not have buses. Otherwise, the district provides buses to other Lewiston schools, but not crossing guards.

“Our hearts go out to the family, and certainly our prayers as well,” he said.

Lewiston police are reconstructing the accident and will forward the results to the Androscoggin District Attorney’s Office for review.

Staff Writers Gillian Graham and Meredith Goad contributed to this report.