Monday, October 17th, 2011
By Margie Wuebker
Child dies in accident
A 3-year-old Minster girl was killed Saturday when the car in which she was riding was struck by a van that pulled from a stop sign.
Aubrey Lynn Bruns, the daughter of John and Rebecca Lynn (Kramer) Bruns, was pronounced dead in the emergency room at Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater shortly after the 11:24 a.m. accident.
According to Mercer County Sheriff's Office reports, the accident occurred at the intersection of state Route 119 and U.S. 127, west of Cassella.
Jinghao Xu, 50, of Hamilton, reportedly stopped his 2006 Chevrolet Express van westbound at the state Route 119 stop sign. He then proceeded into the intersection hitting a northbound 2002 Chevrolet Prism driven by Hillary Hartings, 22, of Maria Stein.
Following the impact, Xu's van came to rest in the middle of the intersection while the car traveled off the highway before coming to rest in the nearby parking lot of Moeller Door Sales.
Aubrey Bruns, seated in the back seat behind Hartings, was rushed to the Coldwater hospital, where she died shortly before noon. Her brothers - 6-year-old Conner Bruns, a front-seat passenger, and 9-year-old Keaton Bruns, also a backseat passenger, were taken to Community Hospital and later transferred to Children's Medical Center in Dayton. Both were released Sunday.
The two youngest children were using booster seats. The oldest child and Hartings were wearing seat belts.
Both drivers were treated and released from Community Hospital.
Xu remains incarcerated at the Mercer County Detention Facility on a $250,000 bond pending the filing of aggravated vehicular homicide charges.
"At this point we are checking his immigration status as he stated he was not a United States citizen," Sheriff Jeff Grey said. "It appears that his driver's license had been cancelled by the state of Illinois."
Xu speaks limited English and deputies investigating the accident used an interpreter.
The accident remains under investigation. Responding to the scene were St. Henry Fire Department, four emergency squads from St. Henry and Coldwater and the Mercer County Emergency Response Volunteers.
"Aubrey was such a sweet little girl," her paternal grandmother Sandy Bruns said this morning. "I always called her 'my girlie girl' because she liked to dress up and have her hair fixed."
The youngster also enjoyed playing on the swings with her brothers and taking Gator rides around her grandparents' farm. She was usually seen carrying around her favorite lilac-colored blanket.
"Aubrey's daddy called her his little princess and she certainly was a princess," the grandmother said.
Hillary Hartings, the niece of Aubrey's mother, was watching the children while their parents were at a family gathering in Hocking Hills in southeastern Ohio. The gathering was in celebration of the 50th wedding anniversary of Rebecca Bruns' parents.
"Connor and Keaton loved tractors," Sandy Bruns said. "All of the kids had been so good that Hillary was taking them on an outing to a farm implement dealership to see tractors. They were so excited about going."
The little girl was a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and a student at Chapel Hill Preschool, both of Maria Stein.
The incident was the second fatal crash in less than two days in Mercer County and the fourth in 2011.
Arjun Prabhakaran, 24, of Riverside, Calif., was killed early Friday morning in a one-vehicle accident at the intersection of U.S. 127 and Carthagena Road, several miles north of Saturday's accident.
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