By NBC4 and msnbc.com news services
HEMET, Calif. – A high school student in a pickup truck ran into a group of teenagers who were crossing a street outside a California high school Wednesday, leaving nine people injured and backpacks and clothing strewn across an intersection, officials said.
The accident occurred shortly after school ended for the day at Hemet High School, Riverside County fire officials said in a statement.
Three people were in critical condition, five more were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, and one refused treatment, they said.
The driver, a student at the school, named by police a David Carrillo,18,ran into a group of eight people who were in an intersection headed toward the student parking lot and the school’s football stadium, principal Emily Shaw said.
“The kids were in the crosswalk doing everything right,” Shaw said.
Seven of the people struck were students, and the eighth person was a 60-year-old woman, Shaw said. Her relationship to the school was not clear.
Three of those victims were in critical condition, including 15-year-old Helen Richardson, who was in a “conscious coma” and intubated, according to her mother Trisha Telezinski.
Witnesses reported hearing Carrillo yell out, “My brakes have gone out,” Telezinski said.
NBC4 News said highway patrol officials believe the truck may have had a mechanical problem and has been impounded for inspection.
Drugs and alcohol have been ruled out as a factor, officials said, adding that criminal charges against the driver, if any, will be determined after the evidence has been examined.
A statement released by California Highway Patrol Officer Darren Meyer said the truck was travelling “at a speed greater than the 25 MPH school zone speed limit”.
“The driver stopped immediately after the collision to assist the victims,” Meyer said.
Parent Rick Chavez witnessed the accident while waiting at the red light just after picking up his son, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.
“The guy went through the red light. …I saw the truck and started screaming out ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa!’” Chavez told the newspaper. “He plowed right into the kids. Two girls were really bad. I thought they were gone. I was in shock.”
NBC4′s Olsen Ebright, Samantha Tata and Beverly White, msnbc.com’s Alastair Jamieson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.