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Mom who accidentally ran over, killed toddler struggling to cope

September 15, 2011 | 11:29 am

An Orange woman who killed her 3-year-old daughter when she accidentally struck the girl with her sport utility vehicle was being comforted by friends and family Thursday, as she struggled to come to terms with tragedy.

"She's really sad," Tene Tafuma said of his mother, 37-year-old Kalesita Niupuivaha, who police said unintentionally ran over her toddler, Anna Niupuivaha. "She's not doing too well."

The accident occurred at around 4:25 p.m. on Wednesday in the 800 block of Adele Street in Orange. Niupuivaha was behind the wheel of an SUV when it apparently rolled forward and struck the girl, police said. The girl was taken to a trauma center, where she died.

Authorities told The Times on Wednesday that for now the toddler's death was being treated "as a tragic accident." The incident was being investigated by the Orange Police Department's Major Accident Investigation Team.

Tafuma, 18, described his sister as "the cutest little kid in the world."

"She loved to play from 6 in the morning to 6 at night," said Tafuma, who spoke by phone from Niupuivaha's home in Orange. "Chewing gum was one of her favorite things. She liked to wear makeup. And she talked well."

Niupuivaha was the youngest of seven brothers and four sisters, family members said.

On the street outside the family's townhouse, friends and well-wishers created a makeshift memorial in the shade of a tree. A large stuffed toy bulldog with a yellow nose, a small teddy bear, flowers, candles and cards were among the mementos.

"To our beloved Anna. Every day you brought a smile to our hearts with your witty comments, joyful laughter and your ability to make [us] feel loved," one card read. "We will miss you, but you will always be in our hearts."


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Photo: Fehi Niupuivaha, 5, places a small flower on a makeshift memorial for his 3-year-old sister Anna, who was run over by a sport utility vehicle Monday. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times