JPSO: Driver hit gas instead of brake before slamming into school

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by Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on December 8, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 8 at 10:26 PM

TERRYTOWN, La. -- Stepping Stones Montessori school in Terrytown saw a horrifying start to the morning Wednesday, after a car plowed through one of the school’s walls into a classroom.

Angie Meserendino, who was in the process of dropping her daughter off, saw it all unfold.

"As I was pulling into the parking lot, the vehicle was in the process of going through the wall," she said.

The driver, authorities say, was 32-year-old Islam Hamed, another parent who was dropping her child off when she lost control.

"She says she pulled up, hit the parking stop, but apparently at some point, accelerated as opposed to braking, causing the vehicle to go into the building," said Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Col. John Fortunato.

Miserendino describes what happened next.

"As it went through, the children started screaming, the teachers started screaming, and that's pretty much when just I got out, went inside, left my daughter right there," she said. "Everything was turned over. Bricks were everywhere. The bookshelf, or siding, was kind of everywhere. There were two children that were pinned under the vehicle with debris on top of them and then there were two children that were pinned up against the wall with tables and debris."

Authorities say six children -- ranging from 6 to 10 years old -- were injured and taken to nearby hospitals.

The victims include a 10-year-old boy, who was in intensive care Wednesday afternoon, and a 9-year-old girl who is in stable condition.

The four others were treated and released.

For Mark Deane, another parent, it was a close call.

This day, he and his son were running a few minutes late.

"You know, we were kind of arguing in the car, saying, 'Oh, you gotta ready earlier so we can get here on time.' And of course when we got here, there was a car in the school," Deane said.

For students, teachers, and some parents who were there, the crash led to frantic moments.

"To be expected, everybody was hysterical but everybody did, at least, remain calm enough to account for, you know, priorities. Everybody made sure children were OK. We just started doing everything we needed to do," Miserendino said.

Authorities cited Hamed, the driver, for negligent injury.

 

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