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Family of child struck by police cruiser: "You don't want to cause a tragedy on the way to go to a tragedy."

The apartment fire police were on their way to turned out to be minor
Posted at 7:25 PM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 15:08:41-05

RED OAK, Iowa (KMTV) — 12-year-old Vana Redd was on her way to a grocery store to buy snacks with a gift card she got for Christmas, her older sister Gracie said.

Redd was struck and killed by a Red Oak police cruiser heading to a report of an apartment fire in the Iowa town. It happened just before 6 p.m. Monday night, according to an Iowa State Patrol crash report.

The cruiser was in "emergency mode," according to police, meaning lights and sirens were on and the vehicle was moving quickly, according to the Iowa State Patrol. A spokesperson said they couldn't yet share an actual speed.

The crash report states Redd "ran into the roadway" and "sustained fatal injuries from the impact."

"They said that a cop was responding to a fire call and that he was going way too fast," said Redd's aunt and uncle, James and Melissa Shirley, of people at the scene of the collision.

Crews were dispatched to an apartment fire at Acorn Acres in Red Oak at 5:52 p.m. Monday, according to the Red Oak Fire Department. The only damage was to a stove and there were no injuries.

Dispatch "advised the responding apparatus that the occupant was not evacuating and attempting to suppress the fire," states a Red Oak Fire Department press release. Fire Chief John Bruce confirmed this is the apartment fire the Red Oak Police Department was responding to.

"When she was around the people that she was comfortable around, she was amazing," said 15-year-old Gracie Redd, Vana's older sister. "She was absolutely hilarious. She could make anybody laugh. She was a very big social butterfly."

"She cared about everybody around her, especially her little brother," she said.

The Shirleys, the aunt and uncle who Redd lived with, said they still have questions about what, exactly, happened.

"Is (the apartment fire) a big enough deal to take someone's life?" they asked. "I understand there's a sense of urgency but you don't want to cause a tragedy on your way to go to a tragedy."

They said their thoughts and prayers are with the driver of the police cruiser. "I know that that's got to be hard to live with," said James.

The driver of the vehicle was 22-year-old Reece Anderson, according to thecrash report.

The officer has been placed on paid leave while the Iowa State Patrol investigates. The Red Oak Police Department said it won't comment, for now, and directed all questions to the Iowa State Patrol.

"I’ve always thought that (police) drive too fast," James said, "ever since we moved here (in 2011).

Redd had just moved to Red Oak six months ago, according to the family. Coming from the Las Vegas area, she was loving small-town life.

"She's with her mom in heaven, said Melissa. Redd's mom died nearly two years ago, she said.

"She’d been through a lot," James said. "We wanted to really give her a chance at a good life, a normal life as a child, to grow up and get to experience life, enjoy success, and grow up to make her mark on the world…she didn’t get her full opportunity to do so."