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Published: Friday, 6/11/2010

Classmates gather to remember kindergartner victim

BY ALIYYA SWABY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Elena Yakumithis died Wednesday after pulling away from her mother as they were crossing a street and being struck by a vehicle. Elena Yakumithis died Wednesday after pulling away from her mother as they were crossing a street and being struck by a vehicle.
NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Wayne Trail Elementary School kindergartners made cards and Popsicle-stick flowers yesterday to commemorate Elena Yakumithis, a classmate whose life was taken only a day before.

Though classes at the Maumee school ended June 3, principal Jim Wilson said he called Elena's classmates in for a counseling session from noon to 2 p.m. yesterday to "break the news" and provide support. Two counselors were on hand at the session, as well as one of Elena's aunts. Elena's kindergarten teacher Lisa Pauken led the students in arts-and-crafts activities.

"Elena just loved the warm fuzzies, which is what we do when we say nice things about each other," Ms. Pauken said. "[Her classmates] made little warm fuzzy flowers … to commemorate her life."

Elena, 6, died Wednesday night about seven hours after being struck by a vehicle in South Toledo. She was pronounced dead at 10:23 p.m. at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, according to the Lucas County Coroner's Office.

The girl pulled away from her mother, Kelly Yakumithis, and was struck about 3:30 p.m. when they were crossing the street to get to a gas station after running out of fuel at Heatherdowns Boulevard and South Byrne Road, Toledo police said. The driver of the vehicle, Patricia Parker, was treated at the scene. No charges have been filed.

Mr. Wilson said he knew Elena and the Yakumithis family outside of Wayne Trail Elementary, because his wife was Elena's pre-school teacher.

"She loved school and loved to laugh," he said

After the tornadoes hit northwest Ohio, Elena went out with her family to Millbury on Tuesday to help pass out snacks and water to tornado victims, according to a paid obituary the family placed in The Blade.

She also handed out bottles of bubbles to the children that passed by that day.

Ms. Pauken said that Elena had gotten a haircut sometime within the last weeks of school and donated her hair to the organization Locks of Love, which provides hairpieces to children with medical conditions.

Elena's mother is actively involved with the Wayne Trail Elementary's parent organization, she added.

She recalled seeing Elena perform a dance at the Greek-American Festival last summer, along with her brother, Alex, who just finished second grade at Wayne Trail Elementary.

"She loved singing and dancing," Ms. Pauken said. "She's one of those kids that when she's in a room she lights up the whole room."

The school will not be open for further counseling, but Ms. Pauken said those who knew Elena should come together as a community to deal with her death.

Elena family's gave to the Life Connection of Northwest Ohio as an organ donor after her death, according to the obituary.

Her father, Emmanuel Yakumithis, declined to comment yesterday.

Staff writer Mike Sigov contributed to this report.

Contact Aliyya Swaby at:

aswaby@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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