ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4)– A little girl who was struck by a car has inspired a new safety campaign called “Brake for Bela.”

Auto pedestrian accidents in the Denver metro area have increased at an alarming rate. Now a grassroots campaign is asking everyone to play it safe.

Bela Estes was struck by a car while playing with friends outside her home in Arvada.

“I couldn’t see and the driver couldn’t see me and I was running across and she hit me,” said Bela.

She was only five years old when the impact from that car threw her body onto the pavement and the car ran over her foot.

“She was screaming and covered in blood,” said Bela’s mother Kristi.

Bela Estes was struck by a car when she was five years old (credit: CBS)

Bela Estes was struck by a car when she was five years old (credit: CBS)

Kristi said the driver was distracted on her iPod when Bela, who also wasn’t paying attention, dashed into the street.

“One distracted moment in your car can change your life or the life of a child,” said Kristi. “We hear more and more stories everyday of this happening to kids.”

Since that crash, neighbors petitioned to get the speed limit reduced from 25 mph to 15 mph.

Now “Brake for Bela” is an annual summer awareness campaign that kicks into gear when school is out and kids are about.

Bela is nine years old now and she joins her family in raising awareness during the summer months for both drivers and children to pay attention.

They hand out flyers, posters, wrist bands and attend city council meetings around the area.

“Denver, Arvada, Aurora, Wheat Ridge, Brighton and Lakewood,” said Kristi.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 2 to 14 and pedestrian deaths increase 16 percent during the summer.

Speeding in residential neighborhoods is the number one complaint to police departments and city councils throughout the nation.

“Brake for Bela” may be a grassroots public service campaign but it’s inspired by a little girl whose family is challenging everyone to brake for those they love, too.

“It’s not just braking for my daughter but who do you brake for? Is it your son? Insert any name there,” said Kristi.


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