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5 kids hit by van in Pollock Pines while crossing street

Community members talk dangers of road where Pollock Pines preschoolers were hit
Community members talk dangers of road where Pollock Pines preschoolers were hit 03:00

POLLOCK PINES -- Five children have been injured after they were hit by a vehicle in Pollock Pines.

According to the CHP, around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, the children were crossing Pony Express Trail near Oak Street, within the crosswalk, when they were hit by a utility van. The victims were airlifted to the hospital — two with minor injuries and three with major injuries.

A routine field trip took a tragic turn. On the stretch of Pony Express Trail where the collision happened, a woman dressed the crosswalk with roses.

"I heard a thump, thump, thump and I just started running because I knew what happened," said Randy Bishop, who works at the nearby True Value hardware store.  

Witnesses say the children were Pine Top Montessori preschoolers, with their class and teachers, on their to a nearby park for a field trip. Authorities have not yet confirmed the ages of the children.

"They walk here quite frequently, but they are always holding hands," Bishop said.

Surveillance video shows the moments following the crash.

"It's really scary to hear [about the crash]," said Nicole Hunsaker, a nearby Burger Barn employee.

The driver of the van remained at the scene. He was not injured.

"The community came together to help the kids, make sure they were stable," said Jim McCarthy, owner of nearby 50 Grand restaurant and bar.

Businesses around the area jumped into action to provide first aid to the kids and move the others to safety.

"We had people comforting the kids," McCarthy said. "We brought them in so they could color."

The speed limit in the area is 35 miles per hour, though, officers do not suspect that the driver was driving drunk or speeding. Though, investigators said they are looking into whether distracted driving was a factor. CBS13 is choosing not to identify the driver as he has not been charged or arrested.

"Everything happens so fast, you never know what could happen," said Burger Barn employee Tyler Davidson.

Driving westbound on Pony Express Trail, there are no signs advising drivers of a crosswalk where the five children were hit. Neighbors say the roadway can be dangerous there, and while police say the driver in this incident wasn't speeding, others often do.

"People get up pretty fast around here," Hunsaker said. "I don't know how people walk down the streets here sometimes because it's nerve-wracking."

Placerville CHP said this road has a history of people driving too fast and not stopping at stop signs as well as distracted driving. In response, the CHP has put more officers there to enforce safe driving.

"It's something I have personally got out there for as recently as last week," said CHP Officer Andrew Burnett.

Meanwhile, neighbors say more should be done to warn drivers of the crosswalk.

"Lights, something. It's a last-minute thing when people do see it," Hunsaker said.

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