This morning she was rushing to catch her school bus, anticipating the final day of school before the Thanksgiving break.
But tonight the family of 13-year-old Guinta Middle School student Andrea Bower is mourning her death.
The little girl was crossing busy Bloomingdale Avenue at 8:30 a.m., trying to catch the school bus in front of the Las Brisas neighborhood when she ran into the path of a Ford SUV driven by Stephanie Lynn Akins, 30, of of 4922 Chatham Gate Dr., Riverview.
Although Akins braked, it was too late to prevent her from hitting the girl with her car and dragging her 20 feet.
Bower, of 3428 Buckhorn Springs Rd., Riverview, was taken to Tampa General Hospital with life-threatening injuries. She was reportedly surrounded by members of her family when she died at 5 p.m.
According to sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon, the Guinta student normally boards the school bus outside her neighborhood at Buckhorn Springs Road and Bloomingdale Avenue. However, this morning she was running late. She missed the bus that stopped in front of her neighborhood but resolved to catch it again when it looped back around and headed west on Bloomingdale Avenue, stopping at Las Brisas Drive.
A group of students awaiting the bus at Las Brisas watched as Bower spotted the bus returning and darted across Bloomingdale Avenue to join the other students at the bus stop. Bower was struck in the center westbound lane.
Akins, who had two of her small children in the car, is fully cooperating with the investigation. She has submitted to a voluntary blood draw and the sheriff's office said speed or alcohol does not appear to be a factor.