In a news conference called Monday by her attorney, Jennifer Porter, 28, of Land O'Lakes, apologized to the children's mother. Her attorney, Barry Cohen, said Porter was too scared to stop at the time of the accident, which occurred when she was on her way home from work at a newly opened elementary school in the children's north Tampa neighborhood.
"I want to express my deepest sympathies to Lisa Wilkins, her family, friends and the whole community,"
Cohen said she was the driver of the Toyota Echo, which police say ran into the children crossing the street Wednesday evening and left the scene. Police have sought two other vehicles possibly involved in the crash.
Cohen declined to discuss details of the accident. He said Porter has not talked to authorities and has not been charged. He said she will talk to investigators "just as soon as she is able to do so."
Had she stopped, Porter might not even have been ticketed, but now could face
The crash killed Bryant Wilkins, 13, and his 3-year-old brother Durentae Caldwell. Bryant was killed instantly, while Durenetae was dragged to his death, reports Bowers.
Their sister, 8-year-old Aquina Wilkins, was in fair condition at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital Monday. Her brother, LaJuan Davis, 2, was discharged Friday night.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's spokesman Rod Reder said the investigation was continuing, and could not say if Porter would be questioned soon or could face arrest.
"We still have to prove it," Reder said, adding detectives monitored the news conference. "The Echo has some obvious damage to it, but we have to prove what it hit. We have a lot of forensics to do."
Porter was joined at the news conference by her parents and younger sister. She did not answer questions and kept her eyes downcast during the meeting with reporters. Her family did not speak.
Cohen said Porter contacted his office on Thursday, the day after the accident, and he told authorities Friday she was the car's driver. The car has since been impounded and Hillsborough County sheriff's officials have said it was in the crash. Forensics experts were working to confirm that.
The sheriff's office is still seeking a late 1980s model Honda which may have also hit the children, and the driver of a white Toyota minivan which authorities have described as a possible witness to the accident.
Porter's parents, James Gregory and Lillian Porter, went to the home of the children's mother, Malissa "Lisa" Wilkins, on Saturday in an attempt to offer their condolences and apologize, Cohen said.
After a brief exchange, a family friend intervened and told them it was not the appropriate time to meet with the grieving mother. Bryant Wilkins' 14th birthday was Friday.
Cohen said at the time of the accident, Porter was too scared to stop. He would answer no other questions that dealt with the events of the accident.
"No one knows how he or she will react in the face of what Jennifer was faced with," he said, adding she was "frightened beyond imagination."
Porter was working late that night preparing for the opening celebrations for Muller Magnet School, a magnet school for environmental science and the performing and visual arts.
The school's opening has been a bright spot for the neighborhood near the University of South Florida, which has been beset with high crime and poverty rates.
Kevin Kalwary, a spokesman for Cohen's office, said Porter left the school about 7 p.m. and was heading home. The accident occurred minutes later.
In her statement to Malissa Wilkins, Porter said: "I wish there was something I could say to ease your pain. I know there is nothing I can do to bring your precious sons back."
Malissa Wilkins could not be reached for comment. Neighbors said she was planning the funeral services for her two sons.
At nearby Muller Elementary School, some teachers and staff members gathered in the school's media center to watch a live broadcast of Porter's news conference and cried.
Hillsborough School District spokesman Mark Hart said Porter likely would be placed on paid administrative leave and if she is charged district officials would recommend that she be suspended without pay.
About 30 students made cards for the teacher, whom Hart described as well-loved for her enthusiasm for dance. Her job at the school was Muller's first job since earning her teaching credentials this summer, but she has worked as a substitute teacher and taught dance at private studios in Tampa and Miami, Hart said.
"She was considered the coolest in the school," fifth- grader Devontae Green told the Tampa Tribune "She taught us all kinds of dances, and everyone liked her classes."