Kokomo 5th grader’s hit-and-run death raises safety concerns

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — Family, friends, neighbors and Kokomo Schools are mourning the loss of fifth-grader Renay Jenkins after she died in a hit-and-run crash Thursday afternoon.

Neighbors say Jenkins, 10, was walking home from her school bus stop along East Alto Road when a driver traveling west hit her. Jenkins was walking east in the 800 block of East Alto when the accident happened, and was taken by helicopter to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis. 

Kokomo police reported the suspected driver, 20-year-old Joshua Cochran of Kokomo, fled the scene. Cochran was later arrested in the 2000 block of East Alto Road and charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a class 5 felony. He is being held on $50,000 bond. 

Lafollette Bogan, who identified himself as Renay Jenkins’ stepfather, said the family is crushed. 

“She’s just like her mom. Just beautiful,” he said. “She’s just an outgoing person, just happy about life. And it’s just a tragedy. It’s kind of even hard to talk about.” 

Bogan says he can’t understand why his stepdaughter was in such a dangerous place coming off the bus. 

“If kids gotta go this way, there needs to be some bike lane or something,” he said. “They just need to do something. Just do anything. Do something.” 

Other neighbors we spoke with agreed, saying they’ve written to Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight to have sidewalks or street lamps installed. 

“At 10 p.m. when I’ve got to walk home from work, there’s no way of seeing somebody walking. I’ve almost got hit a couple times and what happened yesterday was ridiculous,” said Angela Jones, who was spotted walking with her 5-year-old family member along East Alto Road. “It’s outrageous that there’s no sidewalk. There’s absolutely no safety for pedestrians out here.”

Jones says she lives in the same apartment complex as Renay Jenkins and says many residents there need to walk to and from the school or city bus stop. 

“I hope that something gets done about this because I would hate for it to be us, especially for my 5-year-old to get hit,” she said. “I don’t know what they’re going through, and I’m sorry.” 

Lee Carter also lives on East Alto Road and has noticed more traffic in recent years, in addition to faster moving vehicles. 

“Semis, cars, trucks, vans and a lot of people getting off work at Chrysler,” Carter said. “People get in a hurry. That’s the whole problem. They’re in a hurry to go nowhere.” 

He hopes to see changes on the road as well. 

“It’s just, it’s heartbreaking. Any child. I just cannot stand to see a child get hurt,” he said,  “and one that gets killed because of carelessness.” 

Kokomo School Corporation also released a statement about the death of Renay Jenkins:

“The corporation’s heart-felt condolences go out to this child’s family, who are members of the Kokomo Schools family. Kokomo School Corporation’s social workers and additional counselors are available today for students and staff at this child’s school building, as well as at other schools affected by this situation.

“We are grieving for the loss of a young life,” Superintendent Dr. Jeff Hauswald said. “Kokomo School Corporation is praying for the family, students, staff, and community members impacted by this tragic loss. Kokomo Schools will continue to offer our support to our students and staff directly affected throughout this difficult situation.”

Sycamore Principal LaShaya Williams said she was heartbroken to learn of the passing of one of her students:

“Renay (Jenkins) will be dearly missed here at Sycamore,” Mrs. Williams explained. “Renay had such a beautiful smile Renay always shared joy in her classroom (5 th-grade KEY Gifted and Talented) and in our hallways . . . Renay had such a beautiful singing voice. I can hear her singing!

“Even though my heart is breaking, my staff and I understand that we must be strong for our Sycamore students and families. Our social workers and counselors today helped so many students and staff members, including me, begin the healing process.”

Family friends have also set up a Go Fund Me account for Renay’s family.