Tragedy in Astor

Boy killed in crash of day-care van
Staff Writer
Email this story to a friend

ASTOR — A 6-year-old boy returning from a field trip to Alexander Springs was killed Wednesday afternoon, when a Daytona Beach Central Baptist Church van rolled on County Road 445.

The boy was transported by ambulance to Florida Hospital Waterman, where he was pronounced dead. Seven other children and the 18-year-old van driver were also taken to the Tavares hospital, where spokeswoman Bonnie Palmer reported they were in stable condition. Four other children were taken to Florida Hospital DeLand.

The children in the van ranged in age from 6 to 8 and attended a summer program at A Child’s Place Christian Early Learning center, which is affiliated with the church.

Officials were unsure what caused the van to leave the road as it was rounding a curve near the intersection with State Road 40 around 2:29 p.m., but Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Kim Miller said it rolled once, ejecting the boy who later died.

“His arm was trapped under the van,” said DAVID MANNING Staff Photographer

Two motorists stopped and helped free the boy, calming the other children while they waited for medical help to arrive.

“This is a long way from everywhere,” said Luce, who explained that rescue teams from Astor and Altoona were some of the first on the scene.

Injured children were strapped to stretchers nearly twice the length of their small bodies. They were covered with yellow tarps to protect them from a light rain. One little girl shuffled her feet, wringing her hands together as a paramedic examined her.

Some of the less severely injured children waited for a time before enough ambulances arrived. While the children waited, paramedics gave them stuffed animals to clutch.

The overturned van sat a few feet away, crushed and resting on its roof. Small backpacks were strewn about the sandy ground, along with plastic cups, tiny articles of clothing and sneakers. A miniature black life jacket with a bright yellow strip sat next to a cooler on the ground. A fluorescent green swimming noodle was a reminder of happier times earlier in the day.

A sign on the back of the bus read, “Transporting Children.”

As camp directors supervised the children being loaded into ambulances, they thumbed through a book of emergency contact numbers. One woman who called the children’s families was visibly shaking.