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Petaluma girl, 11, in critical condition after being struck by van

An 11-year-old girl suffered serious injuries Tuesday afternoon when she was struck by a van while crossing a street near her Petaluma school.

The sixth-grader at McKinley Elementary was holding hands with a classmate when they ran into Ellis Street outside of a crosswalk and the first girl was struck and run over by a white Ford van, police said.

She was taken by ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where police said she was listed in critical condition.

Police do not believe her injuries are life-threatening.

The classmate -- also an 11-year-old sixth-grade girl -- was not struck but fell backward dodging the van and suffered a minor head injury or concussion. She was taken to Petaluma Valley Hospital for evaluation.

The accident in front of McKinley School was reported at 2:52 p.m., seven minutes after students at the school had been let out for the day.

A school crossing guard was on duty at the crosswalk on Ellis Street, near Martin Circle, but the girls entered the street a block south, near a school driveway where there is no designated crosswalk, said Lt. Tim Lyons of the Petaluma Police Department.

The van swerved but was unable to avoid one of the girls, Lyons said. The driver, a 34-year-old Rohnert Park man, stopped and cooperated with police. Lyons said there was no sign he was exceeding the 25 mph speed limit.

"There is no indication of fault by the driver," Lyons said.

The accident was witnessed by a number of students and parents, and police said they received a number of calls.

McKinley Principal Matthew Harris was assisting the victim moments after she was struck, and school officials quickly called the girl's mother, said Jane Escobedo, assistant superintendent for the Petaluma City School District.

The girl's teacher accompanied her in the ambulance to the hospital and Harris drove her mother, who arrived at the school after the ambulance left.

Lyons said the girl is Spanish-speaking and that police interpreters were on scene interviewing witnesses.

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