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The Tennessee community is mourning the loss of an FSU student killed in a hit-and-run

Florida State University and the Franklin community are mourning the loss of Elizabeth “Ellie” Sims after she died in a hit-and-run accident on campus earlier this week.

An arrest was made in connection with the crash.

Here's what we know so far.

What happened to Sims?

According to Tallahassee police, Sims, 20, a sophomore, was struck by a car at the intersection of Lorene and Pensacola streets after leaving the library around 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Authorities in Florida managed to identify a suspect and made an arrest two hours later in southwest Tallahassee. Willis Trueblood Jr., 18, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Investigators said Trueblood fled the scene because he “didn’t even see them coming.” He also said he “panicked” and “I didn't know what to do.”

What is the current situation?

Trueblood was released from jail on Tuesday on a $10,000 bond.

“Witnesses and bystanders immediately attempted to provide life-saving assistance to the victim, who unfortunately succumbed to his injuries at the scene,” said a police spokesman who gave an interview to the Tallahassee Democrat, a sister newspaper of The Tennessean.

According to court documents, Trueblood told police that the sun was bright and he had his visor down when he hit Sims.

They also say Trueblood entered a conditional plea of ​​not guilty.

After news of Sims' death and Trueblood's arrest broke Monday, commentators on social media pushed for more charges, prompting local authorities in Florida to declare that the charges in the case were in consultation with prosecutors and ” in accordance with Florida law.” “

Who was Elizabeth “Ellie” Sims?

Sims graduated from Page High School in Williamson County in 2022 and majored in undergraduate studies at Florida State. She has also been a proud member of the Beta Eta Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega Sorority since its inception in 2023.

Her sorority released a social media statement.

“We will forever miss your infectious smile, your jamming while preparing food in the kitchenette, and your positive presence that lit up every room. Beta Eta will not be the same without you,” the statement said.

How did the FSU and Franklin community respond?

University President Richard McCullough released a statement saying FSU was “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.”

“Our thoughts and condolences are with her family and friends at this difficult time,” the statement continued. “Counseling services are available to anyone in the Florida State University family who would like support as they navigate this tragedy together. I encourage anyone struggling with this loss to reach out for help.”

Because of the accident, students, parents and the entire FSU community are now calling for a traffic light to be installed at the crosswalk where Sims was killed. An anonymous petition created on Change.org had garnered 17,000 signatures since it was created on Monday.

A memorial to Sims was erected at the crash site.

How can people help Sims' family?

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up to help the family with funeral costs.

“Please consider making a donation to help offset these unexpected and tragic travel and funeral expenses,” the website says. “Our big goal would be to close the gap so that Sims can have a few days off from work to grieve and grow up as a family of four,” wrote fundraiser creator Johannah Paiva.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the site had raised nearly $60,000 of its $75,000 goal.

Sims is survived by her parents, brother and sister. The funeral arrangements have not yet been determined.

Tallahassee Democrats staff contributed to this report.

Anna Harden

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