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9 children injured in day care van crash

JSO: Vehicle runs stop sign, causes crash that flips van

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nine children were injured and taken to the hospital after a day care van transporting them overturned in an accident at Hollycrest Drive and Cassat Avenue, according to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

The accident happened about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 5000 block of Hollycrest Drive. Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Lt. Stephen Spates said it appeared a vehicle ran a stop sign at the intersection, causing a crash that overturned the van, which was from Young Kids in Motion Learning Academy on McDuff Avenue. The children on board the van were between the ages of 3 and 6 years old.

One of those children was Christine Rapach's 5-year-old daughter, who was hospitalized but is OK. Rapach said someone went to her workplace and told her about the crash, and she rushed to the hospital.

"I was freaking. I just wanted to see my daughter. I just wanted to make sure she's alright," Rapach said. "They were all upside down in the car. It scared her to death."

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Bystanders helped pull the children out of the van through the windows and carried them away from the accident.

Richard Morgan, who witnessed the crash, said he ran over to the van with a fire extinguisher after he saw it flip.

"We were sitting on the other side of the wall, and we heard the crunch, and by the time we looked up, the van was already flipping in the air," Morgan said. "As it came to a stop there was one little boy laying on the ground. We ran over there to see if he was alright and then gas started coming out, so I ran back down here to get a fire extinguisher, and by the time I got back, they already had all the kids out (of the van). They all seemed fine. They were all walking around, crying. They seemed to be doing alright."

None of the children's injuries were life-threatening or traumatic, according to JFRD spokesman Tom Francis. 

"It appears that all of the patients who were transported from this scene were transported from that van," Francis said. "It was quite substantial."

Eight children were transported by JFRD and one was taken to the hospital by a parent who made it to the scene, JFRD said.

Five of the children were taken to UF Health Jacksonville and four were taken to Wolfson Children's Hospital. 

Spate said the day care van driver suffered minor injuries but declined to be taken to the hospital. No one in the car was injured, he said.

"They were fortunate," Spate said. "They were very blessed."

He said the accident is still under investigation and no charges have been filed yet.
Rapach said she's just grateful everyone involved is OK.

"You never know what's going to go on in life," she said. "I just really thank God that he watches over them, because they were purely innocent, and I'm just happy and thank God for them being alright."