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Family honors memory of child killed by truck by encouraging pedestrian safety

DENVER — The family of a 4-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a truck is honoring her memory by advocating for pedestrian safety.

“She was perfect to us in every way,” said Andy Newman-Gonchar of his 4-year-old daughter, Gracie.

As the youngest of three girls, there was never a dull moment in the family’s home.

“Such a happy, vibrant, really kind of carefree child,” said Gina Gancheva, Gracie’s mom.

“She just had an appetite for life. She just wanted more. And she deserved more,” said Newman-Gonchar.

Gracie’s life was cut short two months ago while on a trip with her mom and sisters to Boston.

“We were crossing the street and she unfortunately got struck and killed by a pickup truck,” said Gancheva, “The worst nightmare you could ever imagine — one that I relive consistently on a daily basis. From going on the trip to every decision that led to us crossing that street, to witnessing and getting her up off the street and then going to the hospital, ultimately, it really was and continues to be the worst moment of my life as well as the lives of my children.”

The crash was ruled an accident. Back home in Colorado, Gracie’s parents have made it their mission to ensure no other family suffers the same heartbreak.

“We’ve noticed in this neighborhood and neighborhoods throughout Denver, is just kind of this lack of awareness around the safety of people crossing the street, the speed limits at which people should be driving,” said Gancheva.

Each year, Gracie’s school, Lincoln Elementary, hosts a bike rodeo event for kids. This year, her family attended in a different capacity, collecting signatures for a safety pledge.

“Watching out for kids on the street, stopping at stop signs, driving without looking at your cell phone,” said Gancheva. “It’s just a commitment, either a recommitment or a new commitment for parents and community members.”

They want to keep Gracie’s memory alive by keeping kids safe through advocacy, community projects and philanthropy. People can donate to those projects via a fundraiser set up by the family posted on GoFundMe.

The family has been overwhelmed by the amount of support from their local community and people in Boston after the crash.

“We were just visiting, and the outpouring of support from [Boston] has been amazing. People want to make a change. They’re already making changes to that intersection. It just was too late for us,” said Newman-Gonchar.

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