Friday, Oct. 28, 2011 | 10:29 p.m.
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Tears gently escaped the closed eyes of Lani Smith Friday night as she clutched a tiny white candle in her left hand and embraced a family member with her right.
Smith cried during the prayer at Eldorado Park for three young girls struck by a car Oct. 21 in North Las Vegas. One of the girls was Smith’s niece, Mia Decker.
“She was truly a special, unique girl,” said Smith, describing the blonde 6-year-old who had a big grin. “She would put a smile on your face no matter what mood you were in.”
Mia was walking home that day from the park with five other girls, according to North Las Vegas Police. Among the group were two sisters who were also hit, 5-year-old Alyssa and 6-year-old Rain Mowrey. The girls were walking in a crosswalk on Camino Eldorado, near Tropical Parkway when a car driven by a 78-year-old woman failed to stop.
Rain has since been released from the hospital to recover at home, a member of one of the families told the crowd. Alyssa is still hospitalized in critical condition. Mia died in the hospital from her injuries.
“Unbelievable to see cars don’t stop,” said Denise Dell, a friend of the family upon crossing the busy four-lane street to reach the memorial.
“She’s such a small child," Dell said of Mia. "She’s just a baby.”
A small mountain of stuffed animals had formed around a crosswalk sign and candles were left burning on the sidewalk. The candlelight vigil was held yards away the site of the incident. More than 200 gathered to share their condolences with the families.
“We could tell you a million stories,” said Michele Terry, Mia’s mother. “I know she’s up in heaven telling God she’s going to go play at the park right now.”
Music could be heard from speakers. The three girls’ favorites were played. Justin Bieber's “Baby” for Alyssa and Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” for Rain.
People in the crowd sang along with each and with the course of Mia’s favorite song, “You are My Sunshine.”
Terry told the crowd through sobs, “We miss you Mia.”