Thursday, May 03, 2007

This Just In: Sad News From California

Like many parents, we wince when we read something like this:
BELMONT, California (AP) -- A sport utility vehicle jumped a curb outside a middle school Wednesday afternoon, plowed into a group of children waiting for a bus and rammed into a tree, trapping several students underneath, police said.

Hospital officials said 13 children and the SUV's driver were taken to hospitals, and that at least four children were seriously injured. Parents and staff at Ralston Middle School used a jack and their collective muscle to lift the SUV and rescue the trapped children, said Belmont police Lt. Dan DeSmidt.

Witnesses said the 2004 Honda Pilot was in the parking lot of Ralston Middle School when it hit the students.

"You don't think. You just react," said head custodian and track coach Andre Edwards, who said he pulled out a bleeding but conscious student from under the SUV.

Five to seven children were hit, and the others hospitalized were injured or shaken up as they tried to escape the oncoming car, DeSmidt said.

The male driver of the SUV was at the school in Belmont, about 25 miles south of San Francisco, to pick up a student, DeSmidt said. He did not know the driver's relationship to the child.

The Honda was registered to Mauro H. Yan and Lorenza Y. Yan, of Redwood Shores, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

A woman who identified herself as Mauro Yan's wife but would not give her name told the San Francisco Chronicle that her 70-year-old husband was driving, and that he thought the SUV's brakes had failed.

At the scene, investigators combed through debris, including the SUV's front grill and discarded sneakers and backpacks. They noted the absence of skid marks that would have indicated the driver tried to stop, but said it was too soon to draw conclusions about what that meant.

"It certainly all falls into the investigation, but at this point we have no cause to believe it was an intentional act," DeSmidt said.

Seven people were taken to trauma centers for injuries ranging from broken bones to internal injuries, said Chief Doug Fry of the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Department.

Four 14-year-old boys were admitted to Stanford Medical Center and later transferred to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford because of their age, hospital spokeswoman Jonnie Banks said.

One had a lacerated liver and a broken leg, another required 20 to 30 stitches to close lacerations on his head and leg, a third boy fractured his pelvis and the fourth had a head injury, Banks said.

All four were listed in serious condition Wednesday night. "The doctor said they are not out of the woods yet, but their injures are not listed as life-threatening right now," Banks said.

Several other hospitals reported receiving patients involved in the incident; some of those hurt had been treated and released by late afternoon.

The crash occurred about 12:30 p.m., at the end of a school day shortened because of standardized testing, Principal Maggie O'Reilly said. School will open as usual on Thursday, but the state tests are canceled for the remainder of the week, she said.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.
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