Child hit while walking to bus stop in critical condition

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A boy's sister and other young children could only watch as he stepped into the path of an oncoming Jeep Friday morning.

The 7-year-old Bailey Elementary School student was flown to Tampa General Hospital, where he was fighting for his life Friday night. 

At last check, Elijah Cruz was in critical but stable condition at TGH. He was hit while crossing the road to his bus stop at North Forbes and WJ Valley Roads in Plant City. 

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said the children were waiting to cross Forbes Road, but Elijah suddenly darted into the path of the oncoming Jeep.

The driver, Shirley Bowman didn't have time to avoid hitting Elijah. He was flown to TGH with life-threatening injuries. 

The sound from the crash stopped neighbor Joshua Kinard in his tracks.

"It was horrifying, I'm not going to lie," Kinard said. "I walked out [of] the bathroom, heard the little girl scream to the top of her lungs, 'My brother's just been hit.'"

Kindard said he ran outside to a grim sight: the Jeep stopped on the road and a child lying lifeless on the ground.

"It was jaw-dropping. I started crying," Kinard said. "It's every parent's worst nightmare."

Investigators did a brake test with Bowman's Jeep, reenacting the crash. They concluded the brakes were in good working condition. They say Bowman was fully cooperative and provided a voluntary blood draw. No charges are expected in this case.

Neighbor Jose Lara said he worried about Elijah and other children walking so close to the road because there are ditches on both sides.

"He was walking alongside the road and I told him, 'Why don't you come to this side of the ditch and walk to your property?'" Lara said.

When he saw the flashing lights Friday morning, he had a bad feeling.

"It's too much traffic going through there," Lara said. "It dangerous. I know this."

Hillsborough County Public Schools sent members of its crisis team to Bailey Elementary to offer support to any students who need it.