DCF: Violations in day care van crash

9 kids involved released from hospital

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While all nine children injured Wednesday when their day care van overturned have been released from area hospitals, the Department of Children and Families said there were some violations in the crash.

DCF said the day care, Young Kids in Motion, had two 2-year-olds in the van not in child restraint devices when it crashed on Hollycrest Drive on the Westside. DCF said that according to Florida law, children through age 3 must be in one.

LISTEN: 911 call in day care van crash

Officials said everyone was wearing a seat belt, but the injuries could have been worse.

Seconds after the crash, bystanders rushed in, pulling children out of windows. Police have not released the crash report yet, but they believe a vehicle ran a stop sign, causing the van to overturn.

DCF spokesman John Harrell said the violation of not having the two children in car seats is a Class I violation, punishable by a fine up to $500.

Also, Harrell said the employee-to-child ratio changed because a 1-year-old was in the van, meaning there should have been no more than six kids in the van. Police said there were nine, making it a possible Class II violation.

Harrell said DCF is continuing its investigation, and he's thankful the injuries were not serious. Still, he said, this is a good reminder to parents and caregivers.

"The bottom line is that the facilities are responsible for making sure that their drivers understand the laws, understand the regulations to safely transport children," Harrell said.

DCF said the day care has never had any major violations or fines in the two years it has been operating. Its most recent inspection was three months ago.

Maltonia Wright, the day care's owner, said she's devastated by what happened and wasn't even in town at the time.

"I was shocked when I heard that, when my husband called me from the scene," Wright said.

She said the driver of the van is also beside herself, to the point that she doesn't want to drive anymore.

"She's a really good worker and she cares about the kids," Wright said. "She said, 'Miss Toni,' I had them in seat belts. I was like, 'OK, but you know they should have been in car seats.'"

Wright said although the children are OK, the van's driver isn't doing well.

"She's constantly playing it and hearing them scream in her head," Wright said. "She says, 'I don't even want to drive my own car.' Her sister is transporting her right now."

As for the second possible violation, Wright admitted she wasn't aware of the rules with employee-to-child ratio.

"I need to be reading up on the new laws and the laws that take place, and that one missed -- that one passed me," Wright said.

Moving forward, she said her focus now is making it up to all of her students and parents.

"I just pray that my parents understand that it was a mistake that will never happen again, never happen again. I don't care what it takes," Wright said.

Wright said the van's driver will be reassigned.

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