(CNS) Traffic investigators were trying today to determine the veracity of a 100-year-old driver's claim that the brakes on his 1990 Cadillac failed when he plowed into a group of people near a South Los Angeles elementary school, injuring nine children and two adults.
Four of the children were seriously injured when Preston Carter backed into the group around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in front of Main Street Elementary School at Main and 53rd streets. Classes had just been dismissed at the school when the crash occurred.
Carter, a Los Angeles resident who told reporters he turns 101 Saturday, said his brakes failed as he was exiting a Food 4 Less parking lot, according to Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
A total of 71 firefighters responded to the scene and took all of the victims to hospitals for treatment, Scott said, adding that all were in stable condition this morning and expected to survive.
The case was being investigated as an accident, and Carter has not been cited or charged as of this morning, said Officer Alvin Linton of the Los Angeles Police Department's South Traffic Division. The vehicle would be inspected to determine if there was indeed anything wrong with the brakes, he said.
Carter has a clean driving history, according to the Los Angeles Times, which cited Department of Motor Vehicles records, but his 78-year-old daughter, Ella Fleming, told the newspaper he was giving up his car and was through driving. "I'm so sorry that it happened and I'm thanking God none of them died,'' she said of the victims.
The crash again focuses attention on the potential danger posed by drivers of advanced age. In 2003, Russell Weller, 86 at the time, crashed through a farmers market near Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, killing 10 people and injuring scores more.