At the Springs School, where eighth graders should have spent the week anticipating summer and preparing for graduation, staff and students instead grappled with the death on Saturday of a 14-year-old classmate who was to have graduated tonight.
Anna Mirabai Lytton was riding a bicycle on Pantigo Road in East Hampton Village at about 1:25 p.m. Saturday when she was struck by a Ford Explorer near the intersection of Gay Lane and trapped under the vehicle. Several men joined together to lift the Ford off the girl, allowing her to be pulled out.
She was transported by an East Hampton Village ambulance to East Hampton Airport and airlifted to Stony Brook Hospital by a Suffolk County police helicopter. She died at the hospital.
Her death sent shockwaves through the community, especially at the Springs School.
“Our hearts are collectively broken,” Eric Casale, the school’s principal, said Tuesday. “Anna was a bright and shining star who excelled in academics and leadership, and who was just an all-around good kid.”
Though plans were still being finalized as of press time, the school plans to honor Anna during its graduation ceremony this evening at East Hampton High School. The daughter of Kate Rabinowitz and Rameshwar Das and sister of James Lytton, Anna was an honor student and would have graduated with distinction.
“It’s a sad occasion and we’ve been taking it on an hour-to-hour, day-by-day basis,” said Mr. Casale. In a letter to the school community, he described Anna as a gentle, caring soul who brought smiles to the faces of those who knew her.
Since early Monday, the school has set up a makeshift grief room in one of its classrooms. The East Hampton, Southampton, and Sag Harbor School Districts have lent their support by sending counselors to assist grieving students and staff members. “The needs of the kids dictate the course of action, and some are coping with it better than others,” Mr. Casale said.
“When such loss occurs, our students and staff will react in different ways. Any reaction is normal in the grief process and can range from withdrawal to anger,” Dominic Mucci, the district’s superintendent, wrote in a letter posted Sunday on the school’s Web site. “I encourage you to openly discuss with your child the reactions and feelings that naturally accompany such tragedies. The most important thing we can do is to be supportive and encourage an open expression of feelings.”
“You can never prepare for something like this,” said Mr. Casale, who in recent days has been in direct contact with Anna’s family. “As a parent, my heart is broken for her family. Words can never express our sorrow.”
Flowers, candles, and stuffed animals have been placed at the roadside near the spot where she was hit and classmates and friends have been visiting it over the past few days.
Anna was heading west, according to police, as was the driver of the Ford, Maria Brennan, 73, of East Hampton. Police said Ms. Brennan struck her when the girl made a sudden turn left toward Gay Lane.
The Gay Lane intersection is just east of the village shopping area. Nearby is a busy CVS drug store, a Methodist Church, and a post office. Traffic was diverted from the area while the accident was under investigation. Police later asked any witnesses that had not been interviewed to phone them at 324-0777.
No criminal charges were filed, but the driver was issued a traffic ticket for “failure to exercise due care.” The Ford was impounded by the police for inspection.
It was the second time a bicyclist had been hit by a car on Pantigo Road in just a week.
A New York woman, Anna C. Coatsworth, was struck near Pantigo Place on June 9. She was taken to Southampton Hospital where she was treated and later released. There were no charges against the driver, Nathan A. Mund of Maine.