Polk County deputies said a 7-year-old girl walking to her school bus was hit by a car that failed to stop for the bus Wednesday morning.
According to deputies, Vanessa Perez of Haines City was crossing two-lane Johnson Avenue to get on the bus at around 7:15 a.m. when a minivan struck her, sending her several feet into the air. She landed on the roadway.
Bridget Holmes said she heard the crash. “The screeching and then the screaming … it’s just, it’s horrible,” said Holmes.
Investigators said the bus was facing westbound on Johnson Avenue with its signal arm extended when a westbound Dodge Caravan driven by Glenn McCarthy, 45, of Kissimmee, failed to stop and struck the girl.
“I didn’t even see him get out right away, and when he did get out, he just like stood right there beside the van. He didn’t walk towards the girl or nothing at first,” Holmes said.
Perez was taken by helicopter to Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando. Deputies said she has a broken leg and concussion.
McCarthy was arrested and charged with willful/wanton reckless driving and was being taken to the Polk County jail. Deputies said he will also be cited for failing to stop for a school bus.
Channel 9 found out this was McCarthy’s third reckless driving charge.
Channel 9 Reporter Tim Barber stopped by his house, but people there slammed the door on him.
“I understand the first one may be OK, a little more investigating, but the third? No,” said parent Margarita Andrade.
Deputies said there were approximately 40-50 students on the bus who were interviewed by deputies before continuing to school.
Perez is a student at the Davenport School of the Arts. Crisis counselors worked with the other students on the bus who witnesses the crash.