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Questions remain in death of 3-year-old killed in nursery school parking lot

The family of a 3-year-old New York girl killed earlier this month as she and her father stood in her nursery school’s parking lot are still seeking answers about the crash that took her life.

Regan Shetsky, of Syracuse, had just gotten out of her car seat and was hand in hand with her father, Mark Shetsky, the morning of Jan. 4 when they were both struck by a vehicle entering the church school’s parking lot.

Regan’s obituary described her as a “spirited, spunky and fearless adventurer with a joyful smile and a laugh that melted hearts.” She loved her “signature hair bows” that she wore in her hair and was best friends with her 6-year-old brother, Gavin, as well as her mother’s “love bug” and her father’s “sweetie pie.”

“Regan’s energy and love lit up the room,” her obituary read. “If you captured her heart, she would jump into your arms and never let you go.”

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Mark Shetsky, a firefighter with the city, told Syracuse.com/The Post-Standard that he had decided to take both children to school the morning Regan died after finishing an overnight shift at his nearby firehouse.

Shetsky said he’d already dropped Gavin off at school when he arrived at Eastwood Baptist Church, where Regan was enrolled in preschool. As they prepared to walk toward the building, he heard a car engine revving, Shetsky said.

The noise came from an SUV pulling into the lot, the Syracuse Police Department said in a news release. The vehicle struck Shetsky’s car, as well as Shetsky and his daughter, before coming to a rest against a third vehicle.

Police are still investigating what caused the driver of the SUV, Zung Tung, 39, of Syracuse, to lose control of her vehicle. As of Friday, no charges had been brought against Tung, who the Shetskys described as the mother of another preschool student at Eastwood.

Shetsky told Syracuse.com that when he and his daughter were struck, he was pinned between two of the vehicles involved. Badly bruised and suffering from a broken leg, he fell to the ground and began crawling toward his daughter.

Another man on the scene tried to help, holding Regan’s hand and attempting CPR, the newspaper said. Paramedics and firefighters from the same station where Shetsky works also rushed to the scene.

Regan was pronounced dead a short time later at a local hospital. Shetsky and his wife, Kelly Shetsky, recalled a nurse cleaning Regan up and giving her an owl-print blanket to match the owl on the little girl’s shirt.

The couple decided to donate their daughter’s organs, the newspaper reported.

“If there can be one thing to come of it, we need to have ways for her to live on,” Kelly Shetsky told Syracuse.com.

As they try to move on through their grief, the Shetskys want to know what caused the crash. They told the newspaper that they cannot understand how a fatal crash could occur in a small parking lot with a 5 mph speed limit.

“From being there, I know what happened,” Mark Shetsky said. “But I don’t know why it happened.” 

Family and friends of the Shetskys expressed their own grief on social media. 

My sister and brother-in-law Kelly and Mark are the strongest people I have ever met. They shared their love for my...Posted by Kristin Quinn on Friday, January 6, 2017

Rest easy beautiful angel ~ prayers for her family ❤Posted by Tish Miller Hauser on Friday, January 6, 2017

An account has been set up at the Syracuse Fire Department Federal Credit Union to help the family with medical bills and funeral costs. A burgeoning non-profit, Regan's Acts of Kindness, is also being set up in Regan's name. The organization is going to kick off on March 3, which would have been Regan's 4th birthday. 

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