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Family applauds arrest in toddler death

SNELLVILLE — The family of a child fatally struck in her stroller two weeks ago applauded vehicular homicide charges Friday brought by police against a driver who was reportedly backing into a parking space.

Riverdale resident Tekila Glass, 30, turned herself in Thursday on charges of misdemeanor vehicular homicide and improper backing. Police said Glass was backing her Chrysler Pacifica into an empty parking space at Snellville’s Lenora Park on Sept. 18 when she ran over the toddler, who was being pushed through the lot by her mother.

In a press release, the family of 1-year-old Olivia Hellwig said “the reckless actions of the driver caused this accident …. the police investigation has now confirmed this fact,” the release states.

The family went on to decry “grossly inaccurate” media reports they claim suggested that Olivia’s mother, Brooke Hellwig, was partly to blame. The family later retracted that statement through a spokesperson.

“(Brooke) is grateful that the police investigation proves that these early reports were false,” the release states.

Gwinnett police accident investigators issued a public call for witnesses and studied the case for more than a week before bringing charges. Police earlier told the Daily Post that evidence did not suggest Glass was speeding in reverse when the impact occurred, but that point could be moot.

“Striking the pedestrian while backing qualifies for (the charge of) improper backing,” Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said Friday.

After impact, the Hellwigs were transported to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, where Olivia later died.

According to jail records, Glass has been released on $8,650 bond.

The Hellwig family has established a trust in their daughter’s name. All funds will be used to create a memorial in Olivia’s honor, the release states.

Contributions can be made in the name of “Olivia Anne Hellwig” at any SunTrust Bank, the family said.