Report: speed, blown tire led up to deadly daycare van crash - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Report: speed, blown tire led up to deadly daycare van crash

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Speed and a blown tire may have led to a deadly daycare van crash that killed one woman and injured more than a dozen passengers, a police report indicates.

The crash report – released Wednesday – does not pin fault on anyone but says the van's driver, Keishia Tiller, lost control and was driving between 12 and 15 mph over the speed limit, which was 35.

The June crash along Algonquin Parkway killed Heavenly Angels daycare employee Tiffany Belk, and injured Tiller and 14 other children.

"It kinda confirmed what we already knew, it was probably operator error or reckless driving. I mean 50 is reckless. It's 15 over the posted speed limit," said attorney Andrew Horne.

Horne represents parents of four of the children injured in the crash. He filed one of two lawsuits against the now bankrupt daycare operator Lavonia Lewars and the van driver, Keishia Tiller.

"You probably had a mixture of operator error and supervision by the company to allow her to be overloaded," said Horne during an interview with WDRB News.

There 16 people travelling in a 15-passenger van.

While Horne can speculate about who is responsible, police won't comment on that.

"The investigation as a whole is still ongoing, we're still combing through evidence. We're still coordinating with the commonwealth's attorney's office to determine if charges will be brought forward," said Lt. Joe Seelye with LMPD's Traffic Unit.

The report also states that the driver lost control and that the "right rear tire possibly blew out by the large gash in the tire."

The report also states all the children were restrained. It does not say if they were restrained properly. Witnesses have reported that several children were not properly restrained – that some were sharing seatbelts. Several of the children had head injuries, broken bones and cuts and scrapes.

"I started handing the children out. And they had, like, four kids in one seat belt. And they were all shifted to one side, and all three of them were laying on this little girl," said James Jaggers in an August interview with WDRB News.

The state's Cabinet for Health and Family Services has documented transportation troubles with the daycare in the past. A driver was previously cited for speeding in a daycare van.

Lewars is already facing state charges for fradulently billing the state for $300,000 in Medicaid money. Tiller could not be reached for comment.

A woman who answered Lewars' phone hung up when a WDRB News reporter identified himself.

 

 

 

It could be two more months before we learn more.

Police are still waiting on toxicology results for the driver.

 

According to the report, the driver of the Heavenly Angels daycare van swerved and crossed over the two westbound lanes of Algonquin Parkway on June 12. Two children were ejected when the van crashed into a large tree.

Tiffany Belk, an adult bus monitor, was killed. All 14 children and the bus driver were injured and taken to the hospital, many with serious injuries.

Police now believe the right rear tire may have blown out because of a large gash in the tire.  State inspectors say the 15-passenger van was overloaded with an extra person onboard.

The report indicates that it would have been impossible for the two staff people to adequately supervise that many kids. The inspectors found that only one child was properly secured in a car seat. Three or four children were actually sharing one lap belt in the back seat.

Inspectors also found that day care owner Lavonia Lewars had overloaded the van several times in Dec. 2010 and Jan. 2011 and that she had promised to take corrective action, but didn't.

Lewars closed Heavenly Angels after the crash, and she recently pleaded not guilty to defrauding the state of $300,000.

Copyright 2012 WDRB News.  All Rights Reserved.

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