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Texas crash injures 16 children; Day care owner charged

A Houston day care center was stripped of its operating license by child welfare workers after more than a dozen children were hurt in an auto accident involving the center’s van. Investigators say the vehicle was overloaded and the children were improperly restrained during a crash with a pickup truck.

The accident at the beginning of July hospitalized 16 children. Harris County authorities filed driver negligence charges for the injury crash and arrested the 55-year-old owner of Alpha Kids Center. Eighteen vehicle and business violations were uncovered.

The 15-passenger van was over capacity at the time of the accident, including the 16 children and two adults. Reports say one child was restrained in a booster seat. Six children, who were supposed to be secured in safety vests or seats, were only wearing seat belts.

Investigators said the children were on a field trip without parental permission and emergency medical forms. Authorities initially had no way to contact the children’s families. The information was later provided by the day care owner. Reports did not identify the injured children or give clues to the seriousness of their injuries.

The two adults in the van had not received mandatory state-certified training. The 40-year-old van operator was not licensed to drive. Harris County officials also learned the driver was an illegal immigrant.

The accused businesswoman was freed on $2,000 bail and may appeal the state closure of the child care center. The day care will not reopen without a judge’s permission.

Texas officials are accusing the van’s driver and owner of negligent actions and inactions. Nothing was reported about the involvement of the pickup truck driver, who may also share responsibility for harming the children.

The victims’ parents apparently had no idea their children were being transported in unsafe conditions. The parents may choose to file personal injury lawsuits against the negligent parties for damages, including the children’s medical bills.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "State shuts down day care involved in crash that injured 16 children," Mike Glenn, Aug. 8, 2012

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