Toddler killed outside Olathe daycare mourned; her constant smile cherished

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OLATHE, Kan. -- Friends describe 14-month-old Harper Rodden as a loving little girl with a big personality who was always smiling. Harper was hit by a pick-up truck and killed Wednesday outside of an Olathe home daycare.

Tragedy struck on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 on S. Seminole.

The husband of the daycare provider says one of the other children saw her grandfather’s truck driving down the street, got excited and went running towards it.

The childcare provider who was holding Harper put her down to stop the other child from running into the street. As she was handing off that child to her grandmother, the grandfather moved his truck up a few feet and ran over Harper.

Unbeknownst to anyone, Harper had followed the childcare worker into the street.

That home daycare is just a few blocks from Mid-America Nazarene University. Harper’s mother, Whitney Rodden, would drop her off before she went to work as a strength and conditioning coach in the athletics department at MNU.

Friends and faculty gathered Thursday for a prayer service as a way to support the Rodden family.

“I got the privilege to see Harper on the day she was born, she was the bubbliest little kid I have had the privilege to know," Brittany Keller through tears.

Keller is the assistant athletic director at MNU, and works closely with Coach Rodden, who she says is called "Mama Rodden" by the students.

“Some of our students don't have family around, and Whitney takes them in and treats them like one of her own," said Keller. "With that, her three kids became everybody's brother and sister,” Keller said.

The Rodden family issued this statement:

"Our family is devastated at the horrible accident and that we ask for love and prayers during this difficult time. We ask that you respect our time together as we grieve the loss of our beautiful sweet Harper."

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the Rodden family.

Olathe police say they are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Harper's death. As of now, there have been no citations issued or charges filed. Police say at this point, it looks like it was just a tragic accident.

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