Community mourns death of school crossing guard

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A crossing guard at a Cobb County middle school was struck and killed while directing traffic Thursday morning. 

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The accident happened just before 9 a.m. in front of Lindley Middle School on Veterans Memorial Highway Southeast in Mableton. 

Police told FOX 5 News a female crossing guard, identified as Edna Umeh, 63, of Austell, was hit by a red 2016 Ford Focus SE as she was directing traffic. Witnesses said the driver, Lamonte Roosevelt Whitaker, 38, of Lithonia, was speeding through the school zone, and struck Umeh as she tried to stop him.

Umeh was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Ms. Edna, as everyone called her, had been a crossing guard for about five years. Her brother told FOX 5 he knew it was a dangerous job, but she loved helping the kids. 

"I would observe cars that even though she had her sign up and her vest on, cars would fly by her," said Don Michael Lowery.

Lowery said this should be a lesson for all of us to slow down.

"It just doesn't make sense to rush like that and end up taking a life because you made up a few minutes of time, nothing is that important," said Lowery.

Throughout the evening, students and their parents stopped by the site to drop off flowers and leave messages. One student left a sign that reads "#SlowDownForMsEdna."

Dayanara Almendarez was one of the students at Lindley Middle School who dropped off flowers and a note. 

"I can't believe this happened, how did this happen, why? She was a very good person," said Almendarez.


Police said Whitaker had to be cut from his vehicle, which had an Uber sticker on it. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital with injuries. Police said he'll likely face charges. 

According to school officials, Umeh was killed before the start of school, and several students arriving at school saw it happen. 

Lindley Middle School Principal Dr. Dana Giles sent a letter to school families following the devastating news. 

"It is with deep sorrow that I inform you that a crossing guard directing traffic at Lindley Middle school was struck by a vehicle and killed this morning as students were arriving at school. 

"I want to assure you that no students were involved or injured. Understandably, students and staff are shaken by what happened, whether they witnessed it or have since heard about it. Our counselors, joined by counselors from neighboring schools and specialists from the Cobb County School District Prevention/Intervention team, are providing support to students and staff.

"The Cobb County Police Department STEP Unit is investigating.

"We will share additional information if/when it becomes available.

"As always, the safety and support of our students is of paramount importance and we will take any and all steps necessary to provide both."