Driver arrested after video shows car hitting 9-year-old girl, ramming into house

Authorities have arrested a hit-and-run suspect accused of slamming into two young girls Friday as they played in the front yard of a home in Lithonia, Geogia.

Gabriel Jabri Fordham, 28, was arrested Tuesday evening in connection with the wreck, which left 9-year-old LaDerihanna Holmes seriously injured.

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Fordham’s attorney, Ryan Williams, said his client never meant to hit the girls and that he was trying to fight off a carjacker when the wreck occurred.

"Someone jumped in his vehicle with a pistol, put the gun to his face, made him drive and the whole time my client was driving, he was kind of directing the path," Williams told WSB. "My client tried to take the gun from him, the guy hits him in the face, my client blacks out and that's why you see the full-fledged force of them going through a stop sign."

Video showed the car careen across the grass in front of a home around 7 p.m. Friday. The car hit LaDerihanna Holmes, 9, who was playing with her friend, Alaysia Phillips, 11.

LaDerihanna was left with a fractured skull, a broken pelvic bone and other serious injuries. Alaysia hurt her foot in the crash.

Williams said the man seen running from the car in the surveillance footage is the carjacker and that Fordham never meant to hurt anyone. He said his client wanted to remain at the scene, but took off on foot when Holmes’ family members began to confront him.

Credit: Chris Stewart via AP

Credit: Chris Stewart via AP

Video shows Fordham does stay at the scene until he notices someone come out of the house with a gun while making threats, WSB reported.

“With emotions rising, he had no opportunity to stay there without possibly being harmed," Williams said.

Williams said Fordham and his girlfriend, who owns the car, contacted the DeKalb County Police Department the same day of the crash to negotiate a surrender, WSB reported.

Police have not confirmed that account.

Fordham’s arrest warrant only indicates investigators determined the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed when it hit a mailbox and the two young girls playing outside the house.

Holmes remained in the hospital Tuesday evening as Fordham turned himself in to the DeKalb County jail.

Police charged Fordham with hit-and-run, failure to maintain lane, stop sign violation, serious injury by vehicle and reckless driving.

In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Holmes' family members said they were pleased that "the driver of the vehicle who struck her while she was playing in her front yard has been identified and arrested on a host of charges." They said they are hopeful the passenger in the car will be found soon.

Credit: Chris Stewart via AP

Credit: Chris Stewart via AP

GoFundMe page set up by attorneys for LaDerihanna and her family has been set up to collect money for the girl's medical bills. More than $48,000 has been raised in two days.

“She is a strong little girl and we are hopeful that she will make a full recovery and get back to doing the things she loves,” her family members said in the statement.

The Associated Press reported LaDerihanna's mother, Charlette Bolton, said her daughter will have to undergo physical therapy to learn how to walk again, but doctors expect her to fully recover.

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