Car hits children at Florida day care centre

SUZETTE LABOY AND MIKE SCHNEIDER
Last updated 12:07 10/04/2014
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STEPHEN M. DOWELL / Reuters
IN SHOCK: Children who were in the day care are brought out by parents hours after the crash.

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A car smashed into a day care centre in Florida killing a child and injuring 14 others, at least 12 of them children, officials said.

Authorities were searching for the driver of the SUV that started the chain reaction crash near Orlando on Wednesday and then left the scene. 

Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children wasn't releasing any more information on the age and sex of the child who died, said Katie Dagenais, a spokeswoman for the hospital where the most-seriously injured were being treated. 

One person at the hospital was in critical condition and five others were in serious condition, Dagenais said. 

In all, 13 people were hospitalised 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,'' said Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Wanda Diaz.

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.

''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 center provides childcare and learning opportunities for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old and has been in the community for more than 25 years.

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- AP

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