ANDERSON — Students and staff at Highland Middle School mourned the loss of a new classmate on Monday just two weeks after she enrolled.
Suncerria Uditsky, 12, died early Saturday morning at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis just hours after she was hit by a van while riding a bicycle on Scatterfield Road on Friday evening.
Suncerria enrolled in the sixth grade at Highland on April 1 after moving from Minnesota to Anderson to live with her father, said Highland Principal Kelly Durr.
"She had only been here a few weeks, but she had already developed some good friendships," said Durr who personally delivered the sad news to students and teachers on Monday.
Five social workers employed by Anderson Community Schools and several Highland counselors were on hand to help students deal with their grief, and more than a dozen took advantage of the opportunity to meet privately with them on Monday, Durr said.
There are two sixth-grade classes at Highland. Suncerria, who liked to be called by the nickname "Sunshine," would have been in close contact with about 60 classmates, Durr said.
"I went to each class and told them what I knew and that we were here to help them today and throughout the week," Durr said. "It's hard for kids to understand. ... Especially when they just saw her in class on Friday afternoon."
According to the Madison County Sheriff's Department, Suncerria and her father, Marcus Uditsky, were riding bicycles south on Scatterfield Road near the intersection of Rainbow Boulevard about 8:40 p.m. Friday when the accident occurred.
Sheriff Ron Richardson said a van driven by Robert Scharnowske, 65, of Anderson, hit Suncerria. Richardson said the father was riding behind his daughter when the van swerved. The van missed the father but hit the girl.
Scharnowske told police he was also traveling south on Scatterfield when he looked at a sign on the side of the roadway. When he looked back he was almost on top of the riders. He swerved to the left and missed the father but hit the back of Suncerria's bike, Richardson said.