Thursday, February 22, 2018
Public safety

Car crashes into Winter Park day care, killing girl and injuring a dozen children

WINTER PARK — Joel Rosado sprinted to the scene as soon as he heard the screeches and saw a black Toyota Solara plow into the Goldenrod Road KinderCare, where a 4-year-old girl lay dying and 14 others were injured.

"We could see the teachers were, like, panicking," Rosado said. One was performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a child, and other children were bleeding — "laid out, not moving."

As the horror unfolded, panicked parents scrambled to the scene and authorities started an immediate manhunt for 28-year-old Robert Corchado, who they say was driving the Dodge Durango that rammed the Toyota toward the building.

The driver of the Durango didn't stop to see the carnage and chaos he left behind Wednesday afternoon.

It all started about 3 p.m.

The Solara, which had been turning into a driveway separating the day care center from Goldenrod Plaza professional offices, barreled through the parking lot, through a bush and into the KinderCare building, according to preliminary Florida Highway Patrol information.

Rosado, who was working on the roof of a nearby gas station, climbed down and ran to the center.

"It was bad," he said. The driver of the Solara, Albert Dean Campbell, 61, of Winter Park, emerged uninjured but visibly emotional, Rosado said.

Rescue crews descended on the day care, and news helicopters captured images of small children being removed from the day care on stretchers.

At last count, Orange County Fire Rescue spokesman John Mulhall said at least 15 people were hurt in the crash, 13 of whom were taken to hospitals. Twelve were children. The injured were rushed to four different hospitals.

Mulhall said they were being treated for a "variety of injuries, both severe and mild."

"This was a very intense scene, a very severe scene," Mulhall said.

Said FHP Trooper Wanda Diaz of the injuries: "Some are very, very serious."

After conflicting reports for most of the day, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children confirmed the first death about 6:45 p.m. The girl's name was not released.

One other patient was in critical condition, and five more were in serious condition, the hospital said. Another patient had been released by Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, the hunt was on for Corchado.

Authorities found the Durango at a house on Orange Avenue in Winter Park — its bumper left behind at the crash scene.

Neighbors who milled about as troopers investigated said the SUV was one of several vehicles routinely parked outside.

One nearby resident who did not want to be identified said the Durango drove up the street with a distinct clanking sound. A man wearing a red shirt and black hat parked it in the driveway and left a short while later, the neighbor said.

Four neighbors said vehicles come and go from the salmon-colored house at all hours, especially Thursday and Friday nights.

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