7 year-old struck and killed by van

Alondra Karina Zavala-Garcia was riding her bike
Posted at 10:33 PM, Jun 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-27 06:47:24-04

A 7-year-old Fort Myers girl was struck and killed Saturday while riding her tricycle near her home.

According to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, it happened on Jupiter Road just before 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Loved ones added flowers to a memorial set up in the spot Alondra Zavala-Garcia was pinned underneath a white Ford E-250 van. 

"The car dragged her all the way, almost to my house," said one neighbor who did not want to be identified.

The van dragged the young girl several feet before stopping in front of Jody Ward's home.  He told Fox 4 he tried to rescue the young girl, but it was already too late. He hasn't stopped thinking about her since.

"I've been in the military I've seen dead people,  but when you see a little child with longer black hair than you, young innocent, hands underneath the vehicle trying to hold on, said Ward as he fought back tears."

The tragedy, almost too much for the army veteran to handle.

"I been here 20 years; they're all family and when you see one of them under a vehicle it hurts," said ward. "It hurts."

Fernando Franco was behind the wheel of the van. Neighbors say he was the young girl's family friend.

Investigators at the Lee County Sheriff's office say Franco was saying bye to family when he struck Alondra.

The family met for prayers Sunday, while neighbors looked for clarity in what may have been a tragic accident.

"He didn't mean to do it, nope," said Ward. "He didn't; it was an accident that's all it was, an accident.

Franco was cited for driving without a license, causing a death. Investigators say he was not under the influence, but he was issued a citation for having an open container in his van.