It’s not uncommon for drivers to be in a great hurry. After all, many people are stretched far too thin with work, family and social obligations. It’s unsurprising impatience sometimes wins out for those behind the wheel. This is manifested in the tendency to speed, aggressively pass, fail to check blind spots or roll through stop signs.
However, those kinds of actions can have tragic consequences, as a recent case out of Ocoee revealed.
Two fifth-graders were on their way home from school when they were struck by the driver of a sports utility vehicle (SUV) as they stood on the sidewalk with their bicycles, waiting to cross the street.
According to official reports, the SUV driver was preparing to leave a drug store parking lot. However, there were two cars ahead of him. Rather than wait his turn to exit the lot, he drove around the two vehicles in the exit lane, using the entrance lane. In so doing, he hopped a curb, which was where the two children were standing with their bicycles on the sidewalk.
Witnesses say they heard a loud bang, and looked to see the girl lying in the middle of the road, bleeding and unconscious. The boy, who was also struck, was in shock, screaming and shaking. One passerby stepped out to put her arms around the boy while others called 911 to tend to the girl.
The girl was rushed to the hospital, her school principal riding with her in the ambulance. Her mother was called to the scene and later taken to the hospital to be with her child.
Officials say the elementary school student suffered severe swelling to the brain, and has had to undergo surgery. Days after the crash, she remained in critical condition.
While the 35-year-old SUV driver has not formally been charged, blood-alcohol tests were taken at the scene to determine whether impairment may have played a role. At the very least, he was traveling far too fast for the conditions “for sure” said a local police lieutenant.
Drivers need to take into account that speeding, carelessness and outright recklessness can have potentially deadly consequences to innocent people. It’s worth noting children are the least predictable pedestrians, and they are also the most difficult to see. It’s likely when the driver was maneuvering around the two other vehicles in an effort to exit the parking lot quickly, he did not see the children standing on the sidewalk. However, that’s no excuse for reckless (and likely illegal) actions that ultimately resulted in serious and possibly permanent injury to these children.
Our experienced Orlando injury lawyers are dedicated to fighting for those who have been harmed as a result of negligent drivers. While drivers bear the ultimate responsibility for traveling at a safe speed and obeying all traffic laws, parents can and should ensure their children are educated about safe transportation to and from school.
Safekids.org reports unintentional pedestrian injuries are the No. 5 cause of injury-related deaths among children between the ages of 5 and 19. The organization recommends parents:
- Teach kids early on to put down their electronic devices and look both ways – twice – before crossing the street.
- Instruct children always to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners with traffic signals and designated cross walks.
- Children under 10 should only cross the street with an adult. While some children mature more quickly, it’s tough for children to accurately judge vehicle speed.
- Teach children to make eye contact with a driver before crossing the street, and also to be on the lookout for cars that may be backing up or turning.
If you have been injured in Orlando, contact Jacobs & Goodman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. Call (407) 788-2949.
Kids on way home from school struck by SUV, cops say, Jan. 20, 2015, By David Harris, Orlando Sentinel
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Fatigued Teen Drivers Pose Serious Roadway Risk, Dec. 28, 2015, Orlando Car Accident Lawyer Blog