Driver hits kids in Hemet crosswalk, 3 in hospital critical

Posted on November 15, 2010

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A Hemet father had just called his four children and another young relative home from the park for a spaghetti dinner when a neighbor pounded frantically on his front door to tell him they’d been hit by a car. Sean Weidmann dropped his fork and sprinted a quarter-mile to the street near Mary Henley Park, where the kids lay scattered and bloody, he remembered Saturday. They range in age from 14 to 5.

“They were scattered apart, like someone had thrown dice. It spread their clothes, cell phones, socks. The…damn car knocked the socks off my children,” he said of the accident that occurred about 5 p.m. Friday. “They all flipped in the air and flipped around a couple times and hit the ground with their heads.”

Weidmann spoke from the intensive care unit at Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley, where the three most critically injured children were taken. He and his family and friends were taking turns sitting by their bedsides. It was dusk when the group left the park. They headed east and crossed between corners on South Kirby Street, just south of Cypress Street. The nearest crosswalk is a quarter-mile away, at West Johnston Avenue, and would have taken them out of their way. The car in the lane closest to the curb stopped, but a silver Ford Focus in the next lane did not. The 89-year-old female driver was going about 35 mph, 5 mph under the posted speed limit, Hemet police Officer Danny Caballero said.

“It was the lighting and the traffic. With it getting dark so early, kids are still out there,” he said.

The driver was not cited or arrested. The investigation is continuing. Caballero said the woman, whose name was not released, was alert and coherent and takes that route home every day. The vehicle suffered damage to the front passenger-side bumper, mirror and windshield, but the woman was able to drive it home.

“There was some trajectory” of the children, Caballero said. “They were thrown onto the hood and roof of the car. It was kind of dramatic to see those kids on the roadway the way they were.”

The worst injured was 12-year-old Karlie Haley, the daughter of Weidmann’s cousin. She hit the hood, fracturing her cheek, eye socket and skull, and was in a medically induced coma, he said.

“Karlie took most of the impact from the vehicle,” said Weidmann, 42, who owns a roofing company.

Also injured was Todd Addison, 6, Weidmann’s nephew that he adopted as his son two years ago. Todd suffered a concussion and lost consciousness; he was also in a medically induced coma. Seven-year-old Sean Weidmann II remained hospitalized with a lacerated kidney, his father said. He was alert but had a blood transfusion Friday night because of internal bleeding, which may require surgery in the next couple days, he said. Weidmann’s other two children were released from Inland Valley Regional Medical Center in Wildomar on Friday night. Alexa, 14, suffered a broken ankle, concussion and cuts and bruises. She was in front of the group Friday as they walked across the street, minutes after her dad called them on the cell phone to come home.

“I told her, ‘Make sure to look both ways and watch for cars,’ ” Weidmann said. “She told me, ‘Don’t worry dad, I know what to do.’ Not even 30 seconds later my kids got hit,” he said.

Alexa was carrying her 5-year-old brother, Reeve, on her shoulders, which rescuers said may have saved his life because it got him up off the ground. Reeve had scrapes, bruises and a minor concussion. They have both seen a counselor to talk through the trauma, Weidmann said. The accident prompted Weidmann and residents around the park to call for changes on Kirby Street. He said he plans to go to the City Council to request a reduced speed limit, flashing stop sign, a crosswalk and better lighting.

“It is not fair to my family that this had to happen,” he said.

http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_D_ecrash14.31616b4.html

www.pe.com/video/index.html?bcid=674529310001

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