SAN DIEGO (AP) _ The 8-year-old daughter of a professor who was gunned down last year while reviewing a graduate thesis died after she was hit by a car as she crossed a street.

Nini Lowrey died late Sunday of severe head injuries, and her playmate, 9-year-old Cindy Zhi, was in critical condition, Mark Morelli, spokesman for Children's Hospital San Diego, said Monday.

Nini and Cindy were walking across the street, hand in hand, during a Chinese New Year celebration Sunday when they were thrown 40 feet into the air by the car, authorities said. The driver was not charged.

Nini's father, D. Preston Lowrey III, was one of three engineering professors shot and killed Aug. 15, allegedly by Frederick Martin Davidson, a graduate student defending his thesis. Davidson, 36, awaits trial for murder.

Lowrey and his wife, Ying Liu, adopted Nini from China. Nini's mother rushed to the accident scene in tears.

``She was crying, saying `Why does it happen to me?''' said Hongwei Zhu, who was at the scene. ``It's just six months since she lost her husband.''