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Family grieves after three children killed, Elkhart community comes together

ELKHART, Ind. -- Two families are grieving as they prepare to bury three of their own, after a hit and run in Elkhart Saturday night.

Five people were on their way to get ice cream, when a car plowed through them walking on the sidewalk. 

An 8-month-old girl, Dolly Smith died from her injuries.

11-year-old Courtney Jo Smith, died on the scene.

22-year-old Shawn Wolcott, died from his injuries.

Dolly's father, Bradley, was injured. Family says he tried to push Courtney and his daughter out of the way.

He is currently in the hospital recovering.

His girlfriend, Allison Mikel, was also injured. She was released from the hospital Sunday afternoon.

As law enforcement tries to find the person responsible, the family and the Elkhart community are beginning to grieve. 

Courtney was a 6th grader at Beardsley Elementary School.

The school releasing as statement, saying

"The loss of a student in our community is devastating. Our thoughts are with Courtney's family and friends, and with the Beardsley community."

Monday morning, five grief counselors from Ryan's place, assisted staff and students in beginning to cope with unexpected loss of their classmate. 

"When a student dies suddenly, obviously it can be very difficult for their classmates to comprehend what happened," explains Laurenne Hamlin, the program director at Ryan's place. 

She was one of the five facilitators working with the school. 

"In the case of the classmate, just giving them the freedom to talk with each other, share memories of their classmate," says Hamlin. "Give them time to cry."

She says the grief counselors at Ryan's Place have gotten pretty good at handling these tough situations.

This is the 13th time an Elkhart County school has called on the organization for help, in the last seven months. 

"We've had more calls in the last seven months, than I've had in the three years I've worked here total," says Hamlin.

They do activities and talk with the kids, helping them cope, while giving some comfort to the family grieving. 

"The students today talked about how great of a friend that classmate was, and then we give those to the family," she explains. 

In the midst of a tragedy, the children are relying on one another to get through this together.

"They're all feeling that same thing. That sorrow, that fear, that sadness, that anger, that frustration," adds Hamlin. "They kind of bond and connect on that level."

She adds the best thing for parents to do, is to talk with their kids.

The family tells ABC57 that there is no GoFundMe page benefiting them. 

Billings Funeral Home is handling the arrangements, which include services and cremations. 

Donations are being accepted on the Smith's family behalf. 

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