I-Team: Family talks after girl hit, killed by truck in Lawrence Co.

Jayla's aunt says what happened was a freak accident and that Jayla’s mom did nothing wrong.

Posted: Dec 6, 2018 9:15 PM
Updated: Dec 7, 2018 12:15 PM

WAAY 31 talked with the family of a little girl who wandered away from her home on Thanksgiving night and was killed by a pick-up truck.

Jayla Sutton was visually impaired and had other special needs. Her aunt says the family is suffering and strangers are blaming the single mom for what happened to Jayla.

"She keeps saying, ‘I shouldn’t have gone to sleep,’ but who doesn’t sleep at night?”

Heather Steele says she's the sister of Jayla Sutton’s mother, Dannielle Jacobs, who she says is blaming herself after her little girl escaped and wandered onto a busy road in the middle of the night. Steele says how the child got away is still a mystery to the entire family.

“On the front door, there’s a bar that's put all the way across the door, and once it’s locked, it’s hard to get open," she said about Jayla's home. "There were locks on the windows. There were so many precautions taken.”

Steele says what happened to Jayla was a freak accident and that Jayla’s mom did nothing wrong, but she says others don’t seem to understand.

“People are running her in the ground right now and, obviously, as a mother, when something happens to your child, you’re going to beat yourself up anyway—regardless of if you were doing everything to prevent it or if you didn’t," Steele said. "She’s not the mother they’re making her out to be. She was very much about their safety. She very much loves her children.”

Steele says Jayla’s siblings don’t even want to go to school because of what others are saying.

“These are kids that are having to hear that their mother let their sister die and that she did something wrong and that she doesn’t love them and that’s not okay.”

Steele says Jayla’s family knows how her mom felt about her and that they’ve been there for her after this terrible tragedy.

"She loved her," Steele said. "Dannielle will literally tell you, ‘Jayla was my hero.’”

Steele said Jayla’s mom is not under investigation for what happened. WAAY 31 reached out to DHR to see if they could confirm this, but we're still waiting to hear back.

Jayla wandered from home hours before the accident on Thanksgiving morning.

A neighbor found her and called police, but the responding deputy didn't notify DHR. That deputy has since been fired.

WAAY 31 learned his name is David Crittenden and that he worked for the sheriff's office for several years.

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