12-year-old killed in Summertown crash, driver charged with driv - WSMV News 4

12-year-old killed in Summertown crash, driver charged with driving under the influence

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A man is accused of drinking and using drugs before driving in a crash that took the life of a 12-year-old girl in Lawrence County while she was visiting a friend.

In the miles of country that surround Summertown, there are days when the quiet is cut only by the sound of thundering ATVs, dirt bikes and trucks. 

The area's called Wheelin' in the Country.

On Friday, 12-year-old Arika Long was riding there with a friend and her friend's father, Thomas Ruggieri.

Lawrence County Sheriff's officials said as they dodged a boulder, something went wrong. 

Arika was thrown from the vehicle and pinned under it for 30 minutes. 

She was killed.

Ruggieri is accused of driving at Wheelin' in the Country while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Sheriff's officials said they found a marijuana pipe in the vehicle.

"It's a recipe for disaster, and that's exactly what occurred," said Lawrence County Sheriff Jimmy Brown. "That bad decision will live with him the rest of his life."

Brown said if anyone in the car was wearing a seatbelt, things would likely be very different.

"They would have probably walked away from it with very minor, if any injuries at all," he said. "We'll never know, but more than likely, that's correct."

"Arika was the most precious soul,"Arika's grandmother, Kathy Long, told News 4 in a message. "She was a beautiful girl with a beautiful heart and soul. God blessed us more than anyone could ever know by giving her to us for 12 years, and our lives have been forever changed by this. She was everything to us."

A GoFundMe page to benefit Arika's family can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/in-memory-of-arika-long.

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