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Children survive close call when vehicles crash into day care

Updated: 2013-07-31T13:38:48Z

By BRIAN BURNES and ALICIA STICE

The Kansas City Star

As bad as it was, it could have been worse.

Three children were injured Tuesday afternoon when a Range Rover hit a parked Cadillac and rammed it through the wall of an East Side day care center.

About 40 children were inside at the time, emergency personnel said. Two children were pinned under a car.

Firefighters freed one child using air bags and other extrication equipment, said Battalion Chief James Garrett, spokesman for the Kansas City Fire Department.

An off-duty Kansas City police employee, aided by several Good Samaritans, helped free the second child.

An 80-year-old man who had been driving the Range Rover also was injured and was taken to a hospital.

A Children’s Mercy Hospital spokeswoman said none of the children’s injuries was considered life-threatening.

The accident happened shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday at Christian Academy Day Care, 3611 E. 27th St. The crash pushed the Cadillac entirely inside the building and left a nearby utility pole at a 45-degree angle.

In her home on Cleveland Avenue, Jessica Matthews watched the lights flicker and go out three times, then went outside to investigate whether her neighbors also had lost their power.

“Then about eight fire trucks went by in about 30 seconds,” Matthews said.

“I saw the EMTs take one child out, maybe 3 to 5 years old, and put the child in an ambulance.”

After evacuating the structure, firefighters brought in beams of cut lumber to stabilize the building. Utility crews arrived to cut power to the building. Tow truck drivers removed both cars just after 3 p.m, the Cadillac still strewn with fragments of insulation.

Many of the uninjured children were taken to an area near the center, and employees watched them until parents arrived to take them home.

One of those parents was Kiea Cox, who drove to the center from Overland Park after hearing about the accident from a friend. By 3 p.m., Cox was walking down Askew Avenue carrying her daughter Kales, who will be 2 in September.

Her daughter had not been in the part of the day care center caved in by the Cadillac, she said.

“She was back in her own classroom, thank God,” Cox said.

Other parents, meanwhile, reported to Children’s Mercy.

That’s where Shayla Davis found her 5-year-old son, Zyaire, with a fractured hip, scrapes on his face and his hair covered with dirt.

Davis had rushed to Christian Academy as soon as she heard that a car had crashed into the facility. All of her five children attend the academy, and four were there at the time of the wreck.

When she arrived, police told her to sit down. When she saw her son’s name on a piece of paper, Davis said, “I panicked.”

Zyaire, she learned, was one of the three injured children. An ambulance already had taken him to Children’s Mercy. Davis loaded her other children into the car and raced to the hospital.

Davis believes Zyaire had been lying down on a cot when a car crashed through the wall.

“He looked up and saw a big car over him,” she said. “He’s just real quiet, answering my questions, telling me his leg hurts.”

The two other children were released from Children’s Mercy on Tuesday, but Zyaire was admitted for overnight observation.

Davis is not sure what she will tell her children to make them feel safe about going to day care again.

“I have no ideas,” she said. “Tell them their teacher loves them.”

The Star’s Christine Vendel and Robert A. Cronkleton contributed to this report. To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to bburnes@kcstar.com. To reach Alicia Stice, call 816-234-4070 or send email to astice@kcstar.com.

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