HEMET, Calif. (AP) -- A high school junior in a pickup truck sped through a red light and into dozens of teenagers who were crossing a street outside a California high school Wednesday, leaving eight people injured, three of them critically, authorities said.
Classes at Hemet High School had just ended for the day when Daniel Carrillo, 18, who was in a 1994 Ford Ranger with his twin brother and a friend, plowed through a crosswalk, California Highway Patrol Officer Darren Meyer said. About 30 people were in the crosswalk, headed toward the student parking lot and the school’s football stadium, Meyer said.
“The kids were in the crosswalk doing everything right,” said Hemet High School principal Emily Shaw.
Eight people were hit: five female students, two male students and a 60-year-old woman whose ties to the school were not clear.
Three of victims were in critical condition, and five more were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, CHP and county fire officials said. None of the victims’ names was released.
Witnesses told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that the driver, whose truck was modified for off-road use, was in a right-turn-only lane that heads into the parking lot, but he accelerated into the intersection, running a red light and hitting the pedestrians.
“He revved the throttle like crazy. We heard the RPMs build,” student Alex Bissett told the newspaper. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff, but this tops it.”
Backpacks and clothing were strewn throughout the intersection after the crash, television station NBC4 reported.
The driver was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and he stopped immediately to help the victims, Meyer said.
The CHP would decide whether to file criminal charges after a thorough investigation, including a mechanical inspection of the truck, Meyer said.
School activities director Al Fernandes said his 17-year-old daughter was among those hit. He told the Press-Enterprise the girl was conscious and talking but extremely sore at Moreno Valley Regional Medical Center.
Hemet is a desert community about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
The collision came with just two days left in the school year and on the last day of classes for seniors, whose graduation ceremony is Friday night.
There were no seniors among the victims, the Press-Enterprise reported.