TAMPA — A pink backpack and a blue one marked the scene where a car struck five children and two adults as they waited at their school bus stop Thursday morning in the University Square area, according to Tampa police.
All seven were taken to hospitals. Two of the children were seriously injured, but police said their injuries were not considered life-threatening. The children all attend Carter G. Woodson K-8 School.
The incident took place at 8:06 a.m. at the corner of E Bougainvillea and Marvy avenues. Brian Darnell West, 47, was driving a silver Ford Escort east on Bougainvillea when police said he drove into the group.
West pulled over within a block after the crash as witnesses yelled for him to stop, police said. He does not currently face charges but the incident remains under investigation. Police do not believe the incident was intentional.
Lakrisha Wilcox's two children were also waiting for the bus. She said they told her the car appeared to veer into the victims.
"They watched as it happened as he ran off the road and trampled all of them," Wilcox said.
The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with officers. He was not impaired at the time, police said. It was unclear whether the driver was speeding in the 30 mph zone, though police said a witness believes he was.
The victims were identified as Alexandra Torres-Banegas, 6; Allinson Galindo, 6; Perla Galindo, 12; Sandy Quintana, 9; Enrique Antonio Tobias Patino, 6; Yanely Jurado, 31; and Laura Patino Chavez, 32.
"I ran outside and I saw a bunch of kids lying on the sidewalk," said Ray Kent, who lives at the corner where the crash occurred. The two adults were standing near the stop sign talking about how to get help for the children, he said.
Woodson Elementary principal Ovett Wilson visited four of the children in the hospital. Two of the most seriously injured were taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and two others were treated at Tampa General. The fifth child was treated and released.
Wilson described his emotions when he visited them:
"That was the best feeling I ever had in a tough situation like this — seeing the students light up, seeing the parents light up, seeing the family light up, it was a good feeling."
A crisis team was sent to the school, said school district spokeswoman Tanya Arja.
The group that was injured in the crash usually walks to the bus stop together, Wilcox said. They're also the first ones to get there.
"Today, they were a little bit behind," she said.
Wilcox and Kent said drivers often ignore E Bougainvillea Avenue's 30 mph speed limit.
"People ride up and down and go fast all the time," Kent said.
Wilcox said she's going to start driving her kids to school.
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Contact Paul Guzzo at email@example.com. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.