RICHLAND -- A Richland High School junior struck by a car Thursday night is in critical condition at a Richland hospital, but her family said she's a fighter.
Sierra Murray had surgery overnight Thursday after suffering a significant head injury, Richland School District Superintendent Jim Busey said in a notice sent to district staff Friday.
"The Murray family wanted to share that Sierra is an incredible fighter and they are confident that she will be OK," he said.
Murray was hit around 6:35 p.m. while crossing Thayer Drive at Longfitt Street. She had crossed the southbound lane of Thayer and was hit in the northbound lane.
The driver, George Templeton, 58, of West Richland, was driving north on Thayer Drive when he struck the teen, Richland police said.
Templeton has fully cooperated with police, officials said. An accident reconstructionist from the department was called out to help with the investigation.
"She was crossing from a corner. There is a street light not too far from where she was," said Steve Aagaard, district spokesman. "They just didn't see each other."
Murray, a choir student, was walking to school for a fall choral concert that was at 7 p.m., said Principal Tim Praino.
At school Friday, an announcement about what happened was made to students, and counselors were available at the school for students and staff.
Murray has "tons of friends" at school and is "well-loved" by staff and students, Praino said. Counselors also made sure to talk to some of Murray's closest friends and some freshmen in the peer mentoring program that Murray works with.
Just hours before she was hit, Murray spent an hour after school mentoring a student in the library, Praino said. Neither student had to be there, but Murray took the time to help a struggling underclassman, he said.
After she finished in the library, she went into a teacher's class and helped another student with an essay.
"Sierra wants to be a teacher (and decided that) through this program of her giving back and working with kids," Praino said. "She's known as an outstanding kid. She brags about these freshmen she is working with like they were one of her own kids."
At Friday night's homecoming football game, Praino reminded parents and students about the importance of being aware of their surroundings whether they were driving or walking from the game.
"We've got another Bomber out there competing and fighting right now," Praino told the Herald. "We're just all hoping for the best. Hoping she fights on."