CEDAR CITY -- Even veteran police officers were having a hard time coming to terms Tuesday with the death of 8-year-old Allison Sousa, who was accidentally dragged to her death when her coat sleeve got caught in a car door.

"I hate these kinds of things," said acting Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower, holding back tears at the scene Tuesday morning. "It makes you want to go home and hug your kid."

By Tuesday afternoon, a memorial had been erected at the spot on Iron Springs Road where Allison was caught in the car door. Teddy bears and other stuffed animals dangled from a tripod above a sign reading "God bless Allison."

Allison had been standing by a group of mailboxes along the rural road four miles west of Cedar City, waiting with two other children for a school bus. Her aunt -- Patricia Hilliard, 44 -- drove up to pick up her mail.

According to Gower, Allison opened the rear passenger door of Hilliard's car and asked for a ride to North Elementary School in Cedar City. But Hilliard said she couldn't take her, and when Allison closed the door, it caught the sleeve of her coat.

Allison died after being dragged three miles at the side of the car. The aunt, unaware that her niece was caught in the door, headed south about a half-mile on Iron Springs Road, turned west onto state Route 56 and drove 2 1/2 more miles before a truck driver, who saw the trapped child, was able to get her to stop.

Story from SL Tribune