The accident happened yesterday around 2:30 p.m. Classes at the Main Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles had finished for the day and many children and parents were on the sidewalk in front of a discount grocery store where they bought or were going to buy snacks.
Preston Carter, 100, was attempting to back his 1990 Cadillac out of the grocery store's parking lot onto the street. But instead of reaching the street, he is alleged to have backed up on the sidewalk, striking 11 people. According to witnesses, the elderly man did not appear to have known what he did until people began banging on his windshield.
reports that when firefighters reached the scene, littered with backpacks, candy, shoes, and loose change, four of the children were in critical condition. But according to Capt. James Moore, all victims were stabilized and everyone is expected to survive. The victims were lucky Carter was backing up slowly.
Police ruled out alcohol and drugs as being factors in the accident. Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Jorge Rodriguez is quoted in the Los Angeles Times
as saying, "It was a miscalculation on his part. He thought he was turning onto the street."
Police are also investigating whether Carter stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake when he was backing up.
quotes Carter telling KCAL-TV, "My brakes failed. It was out of control." When asked about hitting the children, the centenarian said, "You know I'm sorry about that. I wouldn't do that for nothing on earth. My sympathies for them."
The accident raises once again, the issue of elderly drivers. As CBS
reports, in California, people over the age of 70 must renew their licenses in person rather than by mail or online. And they can be required to take additional exams if they fail a vision test or if someone; a police officer, a doctor, or a family member, raises questions about their ability to drive.
Ella Fleming, Carter's 78-year-old daughter, is quoted in the Los Angeles Times
as saying, "I'm so sorry that it happened and I'm thanking God none of them died." Fleming also said her dad will not be driving anymore and will give his car to the family.
The police are treating the incident as an accident and no charges are pending.
Carter turns 101 on Sept. 5.