092718 Hit-and-run incident

Authorities investigate the scene of a hit-and-run incident on Newman Road near Sunny Slope Lane early this morning.

A truck driver has been charged with leaving the scene of a Thursday-morning accident in which an 8-year-old Joplin girl was killed.

Lance T. Lee, 49, of DeKalb, Illinois, was charged Thursday in Jasper County Circuit Court with one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a Class D felony, according to online court records.

Destiny Chambers, an 8-year-old from Joplin, was killed after being struck by a tractor-trailer rig as she crossed Newman Road near Sunny Slope Lane to board a school bus, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the agency leading the investigation.

Lee was driving east on Newman Road toward Highway 249 and left the scene after hitting the girl. The accident occurred at 6:55 a.m., and Lee was tested for alcohol, as required by law, according to the patrol's crash report.

The school bus was sitting on Sunny Slope Lane on the north side of Newman Road as it picked up students. The child was crossing Newman Road from the south when she was hit, said Sgt. John Lueckenhoff of the highway patrol.

The girl was a student at Soaring Heights Elementary. In an automated phone call to parents, Superintendent Melinda Moss expressed condolences and said counseling services would be available.

Kerry Sachetta and Stephen Gilbreth, assistant superintendents for Joplin Schools, were at the scene of the accident early Thursday morning but would not provide any details on the situation.

"Our hearts go out to the family," Sachetta said. "In the coming days and weeks we'll figure out what happened with the assistance of authorities."

Students who were on the bus at the time were either picked up by parents at the scene or taken to school and then picked up by parents, according to Sarah Mwangi, the district's human resources director. She said counseling services will be available "for the coming days."

"Staff and students in Joplin Schools remember (Destiny's) huge heart and big smile," Mwangi said in a statement. "Our deepest sympathy goes to the family."