WINTER PARK, Fla. – A car smashed into an Orlando-area day care Wednesday, killing a girl and injuring 14 others, at least a dozen of them children, officials said. Authorities were searching for the driver of the SUV that started the chain reaction crash then left the scene.
Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Wanda Diaz said a girl died at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, but she didn’t have any more information on her.
One person at the hospital was in critical condition and five others were in serious condition, said spokeswoman Katie Dagenais.
In all, 13 people were hospitalized and two others were treated at the scene, said John Mulhall, a spokesman for the Orange County Fire Rescue.
Several of the injured at the KinderCare building in Winter Park were reported to be in “very, very serious condition,” Diaz said.
Diaz said the Toyota Solara convertible had gone out of control after it was struck by a Dodge Durango, jumped a curb and smashed into the day care, breaking through the wall and into the building. That driver was not hurt.
The Durango fled the scene but was located almost two hours later after it had been left at a home. Highway patrol said it is looking for 26-year-old Robert Corchado. Troopers said he was the driver of the Durango, but wouldn’t say how they established that. Troopers said Corchado may be trying to leave the area, and troopers and deputies headed to Orlando International Airport to look for him.
A man answered the phone for a number listed to Corchado and hung up when he was asked, “May I speak to Robert Corchado.”
“Please keep a lookout and let us know if you see anything,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said.
Jacobs called the crash an “absolute tragedy and disaster.”
Local television footage showed small children and infants in cribs taken outside on the day care’s playground and several of the injured were carried out on stretchers.
The highway patrol reported that the injured were taken to five different hospitals.
Late Wednesday afternoon parents could be seen waiting to pick up their children, and then clutching them in their arms as they were escorted to their vehicles by authorities.
The day care’s website says the centre provides childcare and learning opportunities for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old and has been in the community for over 25 years.