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Stolen Car Kills 9-Year-Old Girl on Swing Set

August 5, 1993

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Just before dinner, 9-year-old Geraldine Lundi bounded out of her family’s tidy brick house to play with her friends.

She was gone no more than 20 minutes Tuesday when a child began banging frantically on the front door.

″Geraldine’s been hit by a car 3/8 She’s dead 3/8″ Azela Lundi, Geraldine’s mother, was told by one of her daughter’s playmates.

She died while sitting on a swing set in a neighbor’s back yard, crushed beneath a stolen car police said was driven by a 17-year-old.

Witnesses said the teen-ager lost control of the speeding car as he tried to make a U-turn in the narrow street in the city’s West Oak Lane section, and the vehicle jumped the curb. Four other youngsters suffered minor injuries.

″There was this loud boom, then screams,″ said 21-year-old Siheda Epperson, whose daughter was among those hurt. ″I just saw the girl laying there. And this guy running down the block.″

Michael W. Hale, an off-duty police officer, heard the commotion from his home.

″And I saw some of my neighbors ... saying, ’Grab him 3/8 Get him 3/8‴ he said. Hale said he rushed back into his house, got his gun and badge and joined the chase as the car passed his back door. He caught the teen in a driveway.

The 17-year-old was taken into custody and then released to his parents. No immediate charges were filed.

On Wednesday, many in Geraldine’s neighborhood were angry that their children aren’t safe in their own yards.

Epperson’s mother, Roberta Epperson, said her granddaughter and the other children ″are going to be frightened for a long time.″ She added, ″They could have all been dead. You don’t know where the devil’s going to strike.″

Eight-year-old Zachary McNeil looked at the crushed swing set and shook his head. He said he and Geraldine were going to be classmates this year in the fourth grade.

″Someone will have to tell the teacher that she’s dead so she doesn’t call on Geraldine on the first day of school,″ he said.

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