A 100-year-old driver accidentally backed up his car onto a sidewalk full of children in south Los Angeles on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Times reports nine children and two adults ranging in age from 14 months to 48 years old were injured seriously but were in stable condition.
Police told the paper that Preston Carter, who will turn 101 on Sept. 1, miscalculated, thinking he was turning onto a street, when he was was really backing onto children and parents buying snacks from a sidewalk vendor.
The Times reports that the case has once again brought the issue of elderly drivers to the forefront. The paper adds:
“The issue of older drivers was thrust into the national spotlight in July 2003 when an 86-year-old man plowed into pedestrians at a crowded farmers market in downtown Santa Monica, killing 10 people and injuring 63 others.
“In California, all drivers 70 years and older are required to pass a vision and written test every five years, DMV spokesman Mike Marando said. Motorists younger than 70 with clean driving records are eligible for two automatic license renewals every five years before having to appear at a DMV office for a vision test, thumb print and photo.”
The AP reports that as his blue Cadillac backed up slowly, the crowd “banged on his windows and screamed for him to stop, but not before some of the children were trapped under the car, witnesses said.”
The Times reports that Carter had a valid driver’s license and a clean record.
Reuters reports that Carter was released without charges.
“At this point, it doesn’t appear as though there are going to be any charges filed, but it’s an ongoing investigation,” Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Karen Rayner told Reuters. “We’ll definitely be looking at his competency to retain his driver’s license.”
KCAL, the local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, spoke to Carter after the the accident.
“My brakes failed. It was out of control,” Carter said. When he was asked about hitting a group of kids, he said, “You know I’m sorry about [driving onto the children]. I wouldn’t do that for nothing on earth. My sympathies for them.”
“‘He’s complete of all his facilities. He get around, he lives by himself. So ain’t nobody tell him he’s too old to drive,’ Carter’s relative said.
“When KCAL9 reporter Dave Lopez questioned whether Carter’s age might have impacted his driving, the relative responded, ‘I understand that, but accidents can happen to a person at 20 years old.’”
Carter also told KCAL that he was not too old to drive.