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Spring Valley grad victim of FL hit and run, family seeks prayers

Updated: Jun. 26, 2019 at 6:24 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A 21-year-old Columbia native and Spring Valley High School graduate is in critical condition after Florida Highway Patrol said an impaired driver struck her Saturday night as she was walking on campus.

London Harrell, 21, was struck while walking in a grassy area away from the road early Saturday morning. Harrell’s family said she is a rising senior majoring in hospitality management.

“She knew as soon as she left Spring Valley that she wanted to go into hospitality management, so she zeroed in on UCF,” said Roc Swindler, Harrell’s cousin. “She actually just returned from an internship with Phillips in Amsterdam this May and they loved her so much they tried to get her to forgo her last year of school and stay.”

According to an incident report from the Florida Highway Patrol, Yousuf Hasan, 25, drove head-on into another student while he was attempting to make a left turn onto a street near campus shortly after midnight on Saturday. The report said Hasan drove away, leaving the front bumper of his car in the roadway.

Minutes later, authorities said, Hasan, struck Harrell, leaving the scene once again. The report states troopers found him sleeping behind his parked car in a parking lot nearby. He’s charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving serious injury and DUI with serious injury.

According to several Orlando media outlets, Harrell’s family made a statement to the judge at the suspect’s court appearance Monday, describing the severity of her injuries. She remains in a coma.

Kristi Beers, owner of Palmetto Performing Arts, first met Harrell when she was a freshman at Spring Valley High School.

“I was brought in to help choreograph for the Miss Spring Valley pageant and I naturally gravitated toward the dancers,” Beers said. “London is joy, she’s light, she’s selfless, powerful and a whole lot of fun.”

A fan of “dress up” days and school spirit, Beers said Harrell often won the “Most Spirited Award” and “Miss Congeniality.” As a senior, she joined Beers’ dance studio, where she served as a role model for younger dancers.

“There are so many girls that look up to her that are older than her, younger than her because she’s a huge part of our community,” Beers said. “She’d guide girls through philanthropy, spirit, pride…she’s incredible.”

Beers said Harrell’s outgoing personality and willingness to give to others is what she holds on to dearly after learning of the tragedy.

“It’s devastating,” she said. “I think about all her family and everyone affected…it’s heartbreaking.”

Swindler, Harrell’s cousin, said prayer and positivity are helping the family remain strong.

“Everyone who has encountered London knows what a beautiful spirit she has,” he said. “It’s just been an outpouring from family and friends because of how giving and loving London has been her entire life.”

Swindler said his cousin is a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at the University of Central Florida and has raised so much money for Children’s Miracle Network over years of philanthropy work, her picture hangs in the hallway of the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital For Children.

“London and our family have an unshakeable faith,” he said. “We really believe in the power of positivity and the power of prayer. We’re so thankful for all the positive energy we’ve received from the community, family, and friends and we just ask that everyone continue to pray for London.”

A prayer vigil will be held at Doko Park in Blythewood at 8 p.m. on Friday night. The family encourages the public to attend. At the same time, Swindler said, a vigil will take place on the UCF campus, as students continue to pray for Harrell.

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