7-year-old 'touched a lot of lives'

The Baltimore Sun

The painful reminders of the tragic accident were everywhere outside the two-story house on Davis Avenue near Old Court Road in Woodstock.

A little girl's bike with pink handlebar grips and a pink seat lay on its side just off the driveway. Someone had placed an oversized stuffed bear under a tree in the yard and a vase full of lilies as a tribute. And inside the foyer of the house, on a box, sat the safety helmet that might have saved the life of 7-year-old Hope Upton.

The girl died Saturday afternoon when she pedaled her bike down the sloping driveway into the path of an oncoming van.

Her parents and neighbors had cautioned her many times before about the dangers of riding into the road. But she was just back from a visit with her grandparents at Deep Creek Lake and was eager to see a friend.

So she hopped on her bike and took off down the drive as her parents were inside the house cleaning up from a daylong yard sale.

Andrew and Stacey Upton, religious people who were struggling to come to grips with their loss yesterday, described their daughter as a lively and spirited girl who befriended many in the neighborhood.

"She touched a lot of lives wherever she went," Andrew Upton said. "She was a happy, loving child."

The couple had been renting the house on Davis Avenue for the past two years and lived there with Hope and her older sister, Faith, 12.

It was Faith who looked out the window and saw her sister lying in the street immediately after the accident. She called to her parents, "Hope's lying in the street. Call an ambulance! Call an ambulance!"

Andrew Upton said his younger daughter died almost instantly of a severe head injury and wonders whether she might have been saved if she had been wearing her helmet.

Police say it appears the girl came out of the driveway into the street suddenly and the van's driver did not have time to stop.

A neighbor, Carol Frizzell, said she and others in the neighborhood had warned Hope several times that she would be hit by a car if she wasn't more careful coming out of the drive and into the road. She often rode across the road to the Chinese Bible Church of Howard County, where she would ride around in the parking lot.

"Many of us, my husband and other neighbors, had stopped and told her before, 'You can't ride in the road. You'll get hit.' She said the cars would just go around her. I feel bad for her and for the family, but I also feel bad for the driver," Frizzell said.

The Uptons say they don't fault the driver.

"He was walking around like a zombie," Andrew Upton said. "I gave the guy a hug and told him it wasn't his fault and that I would pray for him to have peace and not be tormented."

The Uptons said they had scolded their daughter before about riding the bike into the street and punished her for it, but she wouldn't listen.

"That little girl was a spitfire," Mrs. Upton said. "She was nicknamed Pickles because she loved pickles, and because when she was sweet, she was really sweet and when she was sour, she was really sour."

Andrew Upton, 51, said the family was planning to move to Oklahoma at the end of the month, because he has family there and his work as a bricklayer has largely dried up here during the economic downturn.

He said they were selling possessions at the yard sale to try to raise money for the move.

The items for sale were on tables covered with blue plastic tarps, although a child's play kitchen sat outside of one. As he spoke to a reporter about the tragedy, the minister and another representative from the Chinese Bible Church extended their condolences and offered help.

Soon after, the family's landlord, who lives in a nearby house, walked down the drive to ask whether there was anything he could do. They shared a tearful hug.

"This hurts," Upton said. "But we know where Hope is."

Plans are being made for funeral services at Heritage Community Church in Severn. There will also be viewing at Daugherty Funeral Home in Pasadena.


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