Witness says vehicle accelerated before striking 2 young girls on Belle Isle; 12-year-old killed

‘My heart just bleeds for this family’

New perspective tonight on the tragic incident that took the life of a 12-year-old girl last weekend on belle isle. We're hearing from a witness who saw a driver speed onto the beach and hit two girls. She tells our Shawn Ley she'll never be able to forget what she saw unfolding right in front of her.

DETROIT – A witness says they heard the vehicle accelerate before it struck two girls on a Belle Isle beach.

Ghadeer Salah, 12, was playing with her 16-year-old sister on the beach at Belle Isle when a vehicle ran them both over.

The crash happened Monday (May 30), just off of Riverbank Drive, according to Michigan State Police.

Troopers said a 23-year-old Ypsilanti man was traveling in a Mercury four-door car when he left the roadway, went onto the beach, and struck two girls. He then fled the scene, police said.

According to officials, the 12-year-old died Tuesday from her injuries. Her 16-year-old sister is in critical condition at a hospital.

“He was coming towards us so we all ran into the water,” Chelsea Salame said. “It was like no regard for people whatsoever. We didn’t know what was going on or where he was going so we booked it.”

Read: 12-year-old girl dies, 16-year-old stable after driver struck them on Belle Isle beach

Detectives took the Ypsilanti man into custody on Detroit’s west side. They said they’re calling him a suspect, and he remains in custody.

Michigan State Police said they are investigating to determine if racing, road rage, intentional act, or a hate crime is involved.

“I am so shook by this circumstance and my heart just bleeds for this family,” Salame said. “Their tragedy is not going to go unnoticed.”

Editor’s note: Police originally reported the sister of the victim to be 14 years old, but later said she was 16. The change has been reflected in the story.



About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.