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.
Eight out of the nine people hospitalized were students, officials said.
The driver, a student at the school, named by police a David Carrillo,18, ran into a group of 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.
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.
Early reports indicated eight pedestrians were taken to the hospital, and at least five of the victims were students, according to CAL FIRE. California Highway Patrol later clarified that nine people were hospitalized, eight of them students at the high school, which had just let out at the time of the crash, according to NBCLosAngeles.com.
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.
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