Columbia girl fatally struck by van Howard police expect to charge driver


Howard County police say they expect to file charges against the driver of a van that struck and killed an 11-year-old Columbia girl after she stepped off her school bus Thursday.

Malobika Bagchi, a student at Trinity School in Ilchester, walked in front of the bus and into the path of the van, driven by Charles H. Smith Jr., 21, of Baltimore. Both vehicles were eastbound on Little Patuxent Parkway at Green Meadow Drive.

Police are still investigating the accident. They said Mr. Smith, who lives in the 4900 block of Challedon Road, was making deliveries for Rent-A-Center of America in the area.

Police said warning lights on the bus were flashing when the accident occurred.

Malobika suffered massive head and chest injuries and was taken by state police helicopter to Johns Hopkins Hospital's pediatric intensive care unit, where she died.

Mr. Smith and a passenger in the 1986 Dodge van were not injured.

"The van came from almost nowhere," said Malobika's father, Prabir Bagchi. "This is what I heard from people. The impact was so sudden and so intense that she was thrown."

Neighbors notified Mr. Bagchi, a George Washington University business professor, and his wife, Alakananda, a neurologist at the Universityof Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

"When we arrived, she was dead," Mr. Bagchi said. "We couldn't do anything for her."

About 10 students on the bus witnessed the 4:50 p.m. accident. Counselors from the fire department went to the scene to talk to the children.

Her parents said Malobika was a gentle person who wrote poetry and short stories, and could never have enough books to read. She had recently won a bronze medal in a school spelling bee.

The family moved to Columbia in 1982 from Calcutta, India, where Malobika was born.

Her father said she would pray for a baby sister every day, and her wish came true last year. Her sister, Shelly, is 5 months old.

"She used to go home from school and run to her sister's room," Mr. Bagchi said.

"She was so near and dear to us," he said.

"She was full of energy. She was loving and caring.

"I don't have any animosity or anger or anything. I don't have anything against anybody. I know I can't get her back."

Services will be at 2 p.m. today at the Witzke Funeral Home in Columbia.

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