The grieving mother of an 18-month old toddler killed when a driver ran over her, feet away from their home, remembered her daughter as a loving young girl, always the light of the house.
"I just want my baby back," said Cathy Bernal, mother of Khloe, through tears.
Khloe was playing outside with her 10-year-old sister and other kids from the neighborhood just before 1 p.m. Tuesday in an alley north of 4th Avenue and Orange Street in Escondido.
A 33-year-old Escondido resident and neighbor was driving through the alley when she attempted a parking maneuver, police said. Khloe's 10-year-old sister tried to warn the driver that her sister was nearby, but it did not work, police said.
The driver, who has not been identified or charged, struck the young child. Alcohol or drugs were not a factor in the collision, police said.
Khloe was taken to the hospital, but later succumbed to her injuries.
Bernal said it was difficult to sleep last night in her house, just hours after she lost her daughter.
"It's so hard, last night I couldn't even sleep because I just pictured her, I just pictured my little baby," she said in tears. "It's just hard for us. I know I have to be strong, but it's very difficult."
Despite her pain, Bernal is trying to comfort Khloe's siblings.
"They're trying really really hard to be strong, but it's just so hard, I don't know what to tell them anymore," Bernal said.
She said her daughter loved to dance and sing Patty Cake with her mom. "She was the light of the house," Bernal added.
The grieving mother said she finds some solace in knowing her daughter is now with the Lord.
"Now, she's gone, but she's in a better place, looking down on us, taking care of us," she said.
An investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call the department's Anonymous Tip Line at 760-743-TIPS (8477).