4 toddlers hurt after car crashes into daycare

Posted at 10:11 AM, Mar 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-01 18:48:33-05

Multiple children were injured when a car slammed into a Venice daycare Tuesday morning.

Four toddlers suffered minor injuries and one staffer was hurt, FHP troopers said in an updated release Tuesday afternoon. The children were not transported to the hospital, but the staffer was taken to Venice Regional Hospital.

The staffer has been identified as Colleen Conner.  She suffered a contusion.

It happened at Florida Highway Academy of Creating Learning at 1602 Banyan Drive in Venice.

The driver has been identified as Antoaneta Stefanova Petrova, 65. She has been charged with careless driving and driving on an expired license.

According to troopers, the car struck a daycare wall and the front of the vehicle entered the building. The impact sent concrete debris inside the building.

Petrova was dropping her grandson at daycare at the time.

"We believe that she might have hit the accelerator on accident and then in panic, tried to reverse it but unfortunately continued into the building," said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Kenn Watson.

A building inspector determined the structure unsafe and repairs could take several weeks, per FHP.

The daycare operates two other facilities in the county and the children will be cared for at those locations in the coming weeks.

"On the big picture, the big picture, everybody walked out of here and everybody is safe," said Jo-Ann Wielebea, the owner of the daycare.  "It could have been a lot worse, this can all be fixed."

Troopers say there is a lesson in this ordeal.

"The bottom line is: when you are pulling into a parking lot, everyone has a tendency to relax and they forget that they need that good situational awareness. What am I doing?  Where am I pulling into?  We all relax.  Remember, it is paramount to remain alert until that vehicle is in park," Watson reminded.