Children’s backpacks, shoes, candy and loose change were strewn about the scene behind a discount grocery store across from Main Street Elementary in California Wednesday afternoon.
A 100 year old man backed his Cadillac onto a sidewalk across from the school, hitting 9 children and 2 adults before he finally stopped. If witnesses didn’t pound on his car windows and scream for him to stop the scene may have been worse.
According to the Associated Press, Alma Solache said she was buying her children an afterschool snack just before the accident outside a South Los Angeles school. Solache added, “He was not paying attention.” She stated that it was at least two or three seconds before the vehicle stopped and people began pulling children out from beneath the car.
When firefighters arrived they found four children in critical condition who fortunately were stabilized and were in serious condition at a hospital according to Fire Captain Jaime Moore. He added that everyone was expected to survive.
The drive, Preston Carter who reportedly will be 101 years old next week, told KCAL-TV, “My brakes failed. It was out of control.” Police report that Carter was cooperative and there were no signs that drugs or alcohol played a part in the accident.
There will be more than one person raising an eyebrow at Carter’s brake failure excuse.
According to Capt. George Rodriguez, Carter was pulling out of the grocery store parking lot. Instead of backing into the street, he backed onto the sidewalk.
“I think it was a miscalculation on his part. The gentleman is elderly,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously he is going to have some impairment on his decision making.”
Rodriguez said the collision was being investigated as an accident, and Carter was not under arrest. He has a valid driver’s license, Rodriguez said.
Asked about hitting the children, Preston said: “You know I’m sorry about that. I wouldn’t do that for nothing on earth. My sympathies for them.”
The California Department of Motor Vehicles requires drivers over the age of 70 to renew their driver’s license in person. The older drivers may also be required to take a supplemental driving test if they fail a vision exam or if a police officer, physician, or a family member raises concerns about their ability to drive.
Perhaps it’s time for all states to take a lesson from the little state of New Hampshire. For decades, the state has required elderly residents seventy-five and older to take a road test if they want to keep their driver’s license.
The law has reportedly screened out thousands whose declining skills pose risks on the road; approximately ten percent of seniors fail the test and there is also a number of them who have decided that their abilities have diminished to the point that it’s not worth attempting the test.
Our roles as children are definitely reversed when our parents become less independent. When we were young, our parents had to give us “the talk”. To some parents it is the most difficult and awkward discussion that they’ve ever had to prepare for to discuss sex with their children.
Unfortunately, one of the important and necessary discussions children need to have with their parents is about handing in the car keys. Many are hesitant to admit that they shouldn’t be driving anymore because this is a symbol of their independence.
Sometimes they just need a little push. If you know someone that shouldn’t be behind the wheel anymore, for the safety of everyone including that person, do everyone a favor and have the talk before someone else gets hurt or worse.