Neighbors, friends, and family members of 8-year-old Jayanna Powell gathered Saturday to light candles and release balloons near the West Philadelphia intersection where she was killed a day earlier by a hit-and-run driver.
In tears and prayer, the group of more than 100 remembered Jayanna as a talented student and a loving sibling and daughter. They called on the driver, who they said hit Powell while running a red light Friday, to surrender to authorities.
"She was an innocent child. She was loved," Jayanna's mother, Ayeshia Poole, 29, said, weeping. "They took her away from a family who loved her."
Jayanna was crossing the intersection at 63rd Street and Lansdowne Avenue, at the border with Overbrook, at about 3:15 p.m. when she was hit, police said.
Hassan Cox, her 12-year-old brother, said he was walking home from school at Lewis C. Cassidy elementary with Jayanna and two other siblings when the driver sped through the crosswalk, striking her and knocking him to the ground.
Jayanna's body came to rest a distance down 63rd Street by a curbside tree, said her grandfather, Bruce Poole.
Police are still searching for the operator of the car, believed to be a gray or silver Nissan Altima or Maxima, which fled south on 63rd.
Jayanna's father, James Powell, 44, implored the driver Saturday to come forward.
"How much heart do you have?" he said. "You took a loving baby."
He said Philadelphia officials were also partly to blame for not adequately staffing the busy intersection barely three blocks east of the school with a crossing guard.
Christopher Poole, Jayanna's cousin, said there had been a crossing guard at the corner earlier in the school year, but the guard had not been there recently.
As night fell Saturday, those attending the memorial left candles by a shrine of flowers and stuffed animals near the tree where Jayanna's body had landed.
Then, at the intersection where the accident occurred, they released pink, purple, and lavender balloons in Jayanna's memory. Some sang a gospel hymn: "God my savior, god my healer, god my deliverer."
Nick Taliaferro, pastor at the West Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church, said Jayanna's family could take some comfort in the numbers who attended the memorial.
"All around you, you see this community standing by you, not just to support you," he said. "But to support the cause of justice."