Girl hit by van passing stopped Polk County school bus

HAINES CITY, Fla. - A 7-year-old girl was struck by a van passing a school bus with its stop sign deployed Wednesday morning. The van's driver was charged with reckless driving and taken to the Polk County Jail.

The child, Vanessa Perez of Haines City, was airlifted to Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando where she was last listed in serious condition.

According to a sheriff's statement, the girl was hit by  a Dodge Caravan driven by 45-year-old Glenn McCarthy of Kissimmee.

He was heading eastbound on Johnson Avenue East at the Ellison Parkway intersection.  A Polk County School bus was stopped with its stop signal arm deployed and lights flashing, facing westbound on Johnson Avenue.  

McCarthy continued east and hit the girl.  She was thrown several feet in the air and landed on the road.

McCarthy was arrested and charged with Willful/Wanton Reckless Driving.  He will also be cited for failing to stop for a school bus, according to the statement.

There were 40-50 children on the bus when the girl was hit.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd issued the following statement:  "It's a miracle this child survived being hit by a mini-van, and we are grateful for that.  We can't stress it enough - you MUST OBEY traffic safety devices.  They are there for a reason - to keep our children safe.  Failure to do so will land you in jail, or result in a hefty fine, and can result in injury to yourself or others.  We pray for a swift recovery for little Vanessa."

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