7-Year-Old Killed In South Side Crash

SOUTH PARK (KDKA) — Grief counselors comforted teachers and students Monday at South Park Elementary after learning one of their 2nd grade students was killed in a violent car crash Saturday night on the South Side.

“Students were very quiet. Many had questions. Overall they have been very strong, very kind, very sympathetic to the family and to her closest friends,” South Park School District Superintendent Jeanine Gregory said.

Pittsburgh Police say that 23-year-old Travis Isiminger of Greene County was drunk when his Mustang hit another car head-on on East Carson Street. Nicole Cleland, 38, and her two children were in the other car.

Lexa Cleland, 7, was killed, while her 11-month-old sister was taken to Children’s Hospital and her mother was taken to UPMC Mercy.

“This is an extremely emotional, very difficult. We know that we have to continue for the sake of the students but it is very difficult for all of us to lose any child, but a 7-year-old in such a tragic manner is extremely difficult for all of us,” Gregory said.

The PTA is now planning to put a tree up in the hallway of the school. Classmates will be able to put angel ornaments on it in memory of Lexa.

“Her kindergarten teacher described her as a ray of sunshine in the classroom. People are speaking very highly of her. She had close friends in her second grade classes and it’s very emotional for the people who did teach and work with her.”

The school will also be announcing on their website where donations can be made to the family.

Meanwhile, Nicole Cleland is in critical condition at UPMC Mercy and her 11-month-old daughter is still at Children’s Hospital.

Isiminger is facing a long list of charges, among them homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.

  • Kate C,Bethel Park

    What a tragedy! WIll drunk drivers never learn? Maybe cars should not start unless you can blow into a breathalizer first???
    My hearfelt prayers go out to that family and may Lexa RIP.

    • Laura O., West Mifflin

      I agree.
      My prayers and sympathy go out to the Cleland family. Lexa may you rest in peace.

    • friend

      thats actually an amazing idea

  • CS, Pittsburgh

    Deepest sympathy to the family of the precious child that was lost. Maybe anyone pulling out of a bar or night club parking lot should be given a breathalyzer before being allowed to proceed. If you want to drink, do it at home or arrange for transportation. Don’t put the lives of others in danger, especially innocent children.

  • Sad

    I firmly believe that restaurants and bars should be held accountable for what their patrons who are served alcohol do immediately after they leave the establishment. Anyone consuming alcohol should have to sign a waiver before they are served and given a receipt of the waiver along with their bill as a reminder of what they agreed to – not getting behind the wheel of a car. I’m not saying you must have a designated driver with you or to cal a taxi, but to agree that you will not be driving for X amount of hours or else face X consequences.

    This kid was drinking a restaurant with friends, he’s probably done it before this incident, and he’s probably never been warned not to by an employee or his friends (who probably also drove drunk that day and got away with it). People do this and get away with it and become comfortable with it, til they hurt someone and go to jail. It’s a tragedy for everyone involved. 1 little girls life is lost, 1 is in jeopardy, a baby lost her older sister and doesn’t have her mother to take care of her. Plus this 23 year old ruined his life, will probably spend some time behind bars, and will be burdened with this guilt forever.

  • Why no checkpoints everynight on the Southside?

    WoW 23 yrs old…and we are giving 16 yr olds the right to drive !!! When is this stupid country going to wake up and see the kids today are not mature enough to be operating machines that can kill!!! I hope Travis is given the death penalty.

    • Dave

      Relax with the death penalty. There are good people who make mistakes. Not condoning any actions but no one is perfect. Death penalty? Think before you speak. I didn’t know you’ve been an innocent angel.

      • Sue

        Yes, he made a mistake. Its too bad someone else had to pay for it.

    • friend

      Death penalty! that is not right, he will receive serious jail time but when was the last time a drunk driver got the death penalty? i am a friend of trav and i think that is ridiculous to suggest DP, because while i think drunk driving is horrendous, and i feel horrible for the little girl, and her family but he will be living in a personal hell as it is, and really, as Dave said, think before you speak. Think of what travs family would feel if they saw that.

      • prw

        What to you concider serious jail time, cause what I’ve been told he will due no more than 10 years, probably 3-7 with a plea. Sorry, I knew this child and thats not enough time in my mind.

      • friend of Nicole

        Aww..poor, poor Travis. Lets all feel sorry that he ruined his own life and destroyed someone else’s family. Sorry not me.

      • Kris

        Think of Travis’ family??? What about Lexa’s family? Lexa would be the innocent little girl that “Trav” killed, in case the name doesn’t ring a bell.

        Poor, misunderstood Travis. It’s not his fault that he made a conscious decision to get intoxicated. It’s not his fault that he made a conscious decision to get behind the wheel of his vehicle while intoxicated. It’s certainly not his fault that after he plowed into this innocent family, he didn’t even attempt to get any help for his victims, because he was too busy running away. And it’s most definitely not his fault that he has destroyed this family–a family whose lives will never, ever be the same. But let me guess, Travis probably had a bad life, and we should all feel sorry for him, right? Bleeding hearts like you make me sick!

        May you rest in peace, Lexa, and may poor, poor Travis be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law for his actions, so that your death will not have been in vain!

      • Katie

        This was not Travis’s first run in with “mistakes” and Lexa had to pay for his mistakes with her life.

      • anon

        He killed not only an unborn child but a innocent 7 year old. Besides that their mother is fighting for her life in the hospital…knowing that she will never see her little girl again. this wasnt “travs’ first mistake… I feel for his mother but not for him. I hope he gets the most serious punishment possible for this crime.

  • Beth Walsh

    By the way..the mom was expecting. No news on how that is going. I can only imagine…..

  • John

    Deepest sympathy to the family. Truely a sad day for all of the families of the lil girl. when you have a 20 something Kid and a fast car and a body full of booze always ends in a bad accident.

  • Carole P South Park, Pa

    how many more drunks will kill innocent people before some type of stern punishment is enforced? He should be responsible for every bit of financial burden that bestows this family – if he cannot pay – his family should. Maybe then people will start thinking about drinking and driving.

  • Daniel

    They do need checkpoints on the Southside..but wait…to many bar owners would complain that it was hurting business. That is why you do not see checkpoints on the Southside. And I say arrest the person who served him his last drink as well and SUE whichever establishment served him last. Why has the name of the bar/restaurant where he was drinking not been published?

  • anonymous 2

    Well i have a few comments so ill start first the name of the bar has been announced several times it is Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh address Southside Works
    2705 South Water St. Pittsburgh, PA 15203. second its so terrible if the mother was expecting i feel sick thinking about that, but was wasnt this said? You would think that it would been something they would of know right? anymore info of this anyone? and I notice the news and media keep saying he had 3 liters of beer well a liter is 16 ounces it sounds bigger then it is when you listen to it on the news, dont get me wrong im not saying it was ok at all.

    But I do have one last thing for everyone that might have a drink to think about;
    How many imes have you went and had 2 or 3 beers and went home? been safe right? unfortunately this yound man wasnt so lucky to be safe and a young girl had lost her life. But i just want all of us to think about it you know it only takes one time and now a familty has to deal with the lose of a loved one and a young man has to live with this!!

    And last but not least i have read all the comments just like everyone else has and see things about a young man having such a fast mustang I know one thing and it is cars this is a 6 cyclinder mustang with less horsepower then most of our family sedans just a little tid bit i thought I would throw out there. Now that i have touched base for both families and some coments i will leave with this our prayers are with both families because alll persons involved need them!!

  • becky

    prayers for both families. That is what we all need. To remember that we are not perfect and not to judge. What if the tables were turned and it was your child. Think before you speak. Your words create life or death. My heart goes to both of these mothers, cause in a sence, they both lost their children.

    • Dave

      Well said.

  • Tom

    First off, if anyone has ever had a beer at the Hofbräuhaus, you know that the alcohol content of their house brewed beer is extremely high. I can’t even go to the beer distributor and buy anything that strong to enjoy in the comfort of my own home because it’s illegal to sell it, yet this establishment is allowed to over serve its patrons, of which the majority are probably driving, their house brew. Second, Travis was thrown out of the bar that night after throwing up all over a table, and none of the security at the bar ever considered that he might be driving. They pretty much threw him behind the wheel of a car rather than properly dealing with the situation. I will personally be boycotting this bar/restaurant in memory of a little girl lost and many lives ruined forever!

    • jack

      tom; i am attempting to assist the Cleland family in uncovering witnesses who may have seen Travis at the Hofbra house > If U know of any witnesses :please help us U may email to cselden@csiinvestigators.com


  • Cindy

    I have to agree with Tom. I work in a restaurant, bar establishment…and I am very disappoiinted to think that Travis did get sick on a table, and they threw him out of the bar….and let him get into a vehicle knowing he had too much to drink. I personally knew little Lexa Cleland, and she was a ray of sunshine as her teachers said. My heart goes out to Mark and Nikki Cleland who lost a little girl because of a young mans ability to not know he shouldn’t get behind the wheel of his car.

  • faraway friend

    I don’t know the family personally – – just through friends of freinds……Nicole (the mother) is having surgery today. From what I understand, the family may not have insurance. There have been a lot of caring comments so I wanted to pass along donation information for those of you who might be able to help

    The Cleland Family Fund
    Donations for the family are being accepted at the First National Bank in South Park’s Bavarian Village or at any of our schools. Checks can be made payable to: The Cleland Family Fund

    First National Bank
    2550 Brownsville Road
    South Park, PA 15129


  • Bryan Shanahan - USC - "90"

    I grew up with Nikki and unfortunately haven’t kept in touch with her. My prayers go out to her and her family. Unfortunately our country has a blood alcohol limit for capitol gains to the local government. It is a major source of income for the townships / county / state. If “we” wanted to stop drunk driving “we” would enforce a zero tolerance policy in which real punishment would take place. Not a review class and license suspension until they make the mistake again and allow them to collect more money in the future. It’s a shame that her family had to go through what so many have already endured. The limits are in place to give you enough room to gamble on not getting caught or thinking you are ok to drive. Having had a few beers in my day, it would be a cold day in hell if “three” beers alone got him this drunk. God forbid this happen to my family and the driver survives.

  • Courtney

    I am so sad over this. After hearing about and reading it over and over again I’m just so sick. This is awful. This could happen to any of us at any moment of the day. That little girl was probably so scared fighting for her life and she couldn’t even have her Mom near her. I have two small boys and I cry looking at them playing thinking about something like this happening. It’s every parents worse nightmare. And as for the driver’s parents it’s another nightmare. He made an awful choice. My heart hurts for the Cleland family. Thank goodness the 11 month old survived. Hopefully they can find small peace in caring for her and have a reason to get out of bed each and everyday. My prayers are with them..

  • dancer15

    I am a friend of the family, this was a horrible accident for everyone involved. Every time I see someone drinking in public, my heart aches. I hope people learn from this. Its hard for me not to think of Lexa everyday. She is always in my heart, I feel like there should be no sorrow for Travis. He made a huge mistake, and I hope he thinks of Lexa, and feels so guilty. The world lost a unborn child, and a beautiful little girl. My prayers are always with the Cleland family.

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