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PHOTOS: Community mourns 5-year-old Sariah Sheppards


A vigil for 5-year-old Sariah Sheppards on Friday evening drew a crowd of mourners to the intersection of East Ninth and Sutro streets. Sheppards died Wednesday after the Honda Accord driven by her mother, was struck by a Scion driven by two individuals who where fleeing police.

Sariah Sheppards’ mother mourns at a vigil in memory of the 5-year-old Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

Sheppards’ mother was overcome by immense grief at the vigil, and dozens of others grieved with her.

Family, friends and community members brought balloons, flowers and candles as a makeshift memorial. They were placed alongside damage from the crash which was still visible, including broken fencing, a tree with its bark stripped, oil on the ground, and even pieces of the vehicles.

A Reno Police Department spokesperson said the men in the Scion were not being chased by the police at the time of the crash.

After the crash, both of the men fled on foot. Nevada Highway Patrol, which is investigating the incident at the request of Reno Police, reported that the driver, Jesse Allen Bennett, 33, from Eugene, Oregon, was found and apprehended. He faces five felony and two misdemeanor charges related to the crash along with a felony warrant out of Oregon.

Members of a local motorcycle club were also at the vigil. A member of the club said he witnessed the crash and pursued the fleeing driver, eventually giving police information that led to the driver’s capture. The family of Sheppards expressed their gratitude to the man.

Another man who identified himself as a neighbor to the family said Sariah would say hello to him every time they passed each other.

A GoFundMe campaign set up in Sariah’s memory and to help cover funeral costs has already exceeded its $15,000 goal.

Ty O'Neil
Ty O'Neil
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.