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Mourners placed flowers outside Benton Elementary in memory of kindergarten teacher Angel Hayes.

Teacher dies after being hit by car in pickup lane of Neosho, Mo., elementary

Angel Hayes was killed after she was struck by an SUV driven by an 88-year-old man.

A kindergarten teacher was killed outside her Neosho, Mo., elementary school after she was struck by a vehicle in the school's pickup lane.

The Joplin Globe reports that Angel Hayes, who taught at Benton Elementary School, was described as devoted to her work in and out of the classroom.

Hayes, 48, had worked as an educator for 25 years, 19 in the Neosho School District at Benton Elementary and Field Early Childhood Center.

Neosho Police Chief David Kennedy says emergency services were called to the school Wednesday afternoon and found Hayes trapped beneath an SUV in the back parking lot.

The driver, Kennedy says, "was in the parent pickup line (and) his foot got trapped between the brake and accelerator, causing his vehicle to lurch forward. Once that happened, he struck Ms. Hayes (and) continued through the parking lot until he struck another vehicle, which stopped the vehicle."

The driver of the SUV was identified as Erwin Parker, 88. Parker’s 12-year-old granddaughter also was in the vehicle.

As of Thursday, no charges had been filed.

Witness statements have indicated that Hayes was in front of Parker’s vehicle when she was struck. Neosho Superintendent Jim Cummins says it is standard for a teacher to be out front directing traffic during pickup time.

“I’ve spent many hours of my career looking at the ways parent pickup lines work, and somebody has to be the person that brings cars forward (and) moves them on when it’s time for the next group to arrive,” he said. “So it is not an uncommon thing to have somebody that is directing traffic.”

Cummins says the parent pickup procedure is often designed to emphasize student safety, and the district now will begin reviewing ways in which to increase teacher safety.

“The person that’s directing the traffic, we obviously want them to be safe as well, so we will have to look at what can we modify that would potentially have remedied this situation," he says.

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