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Child Dies, 12 Hurt in Van Accident

May 28, 2001

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A speeding van crammed with children on their way home from a party plowed into several cars and flipped over, killing a 4-year-old girl and injuring 12 other children and one adult.

Police later apprehended 50-year-old Willis Mitchell and said he was the van’s driver. Mitchell, who police said fled after the crash Sunday night, was hospitalized with minor injuries and was being questioned by detectives. No charges had been filed Monday afternoon.

``There were just kids everywhere,″ resident Kevin Smith told WPVI-TV. ``Kids who couldn’t move. Kids who were passed out. Kids who were lying in pools of their own blood.″

Four children, ranging in age from 4 to 12, were ejected. Two children remained hospitalized Monday.

``There was a lot of kids hurt, but she was the only one dead,″ Cerita Kelly, the 4-year-old’s grandmother, told WPVI-TV. ``And she died instantly and now she’s gone.″

The van struck several parked cars, hit a construction trash bin and overturned, Philadelphia police Capt. Ted Sideras said. Detectives later said the van was speeding down a narrow, rain-slicked street.

A 7-year-old boy with a skull fracture was in fair condition Monday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, hospital spokeswoman Joey McCool said. A 5-year-old boy also was at the hospital in fair condition with minor injuries, such as cuts and bruises.

A woman and the other children were treated and released at several hospitals.

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