Florida Highway Patrol officials say the crash investigation is ongoing, but initial reports indicate that the Toyota Corolla that the child was in was heading south on U.S. 441 and entered into the left turn lane to turn into Living Waters Worship Center. The car allegedly made the turn and went into the path of a black Hyundai minivan heading north.
The driver of the van could not avoid the crash and struck the passenger side of the Toyota. Troopers say the minivan overturned on its passenger side in the grass on the east shoulder, while the car rotated and stopped at the church entrance.
Officials said the child was unrestrained and there was no car seat or booster seat in the vehicle.
An off-duty Marion County firefighter arrived at the crash scene, along with two unidentified firefighters and a sheriff’s deputy to assist with the crash. Firefighters and the deputy removed the child from the car and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while the other two firefighters did chest compressions. She was later taken to Shands for treatment.
The Corolla driver was cited for failure to yield the rights of way, a traffic infraction. While this is not a criminal citation, as a former prosecutor I can tell you that these cases are taken very seriously by the State Attorney’s Office. These were some of the hardest cases to handle since it is hard to explain to family members that even though their loved one had died, there was no jail time available for the defendant who caused the crash. It is an accident and the Florida Criminal Statutes don’t punish people for accidental conduct, it punishes those who intentionally break the law. Also called traffic fatalities, these cases can subject the driver to driver’s license suspensions and large fines.
Here could also be civil liability for this case for wrongful death and negligence. This is a sad lesson on how even short trips to the grocery store or day care can be devastating if seatbelts and car seats aren’t utilized.
If you have been involved in an Ocala car accident or have family members who have been injured in an car accident anywhere in Florida, and you are having difficulty with your insurance carrier or would like a free injury consultation, contact the Marion County car accident attorneys of Whittel & Melton at 352-666-6666 or contact us online.