It is every parent’s nightmare, almost every driver’s nightmare: You’re driving down a city street at normal speed, even slower than the posted speed limit. A child darts across the road, seemingly out of nowhere. You slam the brakes. It’s already too late. Car and child have collided.
It’s what happened on Florida Park Drive this evening at 6 p.m., between Flintstone Court and Forest Hill Drive.
Francis Collins, a 69-year-old resident of Frederick Lane, was going home, driving north on Florida Park Drive. He was less than a mile from home, driving a Honda Accord at less than the posted 30 mph speed limit, according to a Florida Highway Patrol investigator at the scene.
The 4-year-old boy, whose identity has not been released, was at 129 Florida Park Drive. He decided to cross the road to go to the house immediately across from 129, at 122, where the boy reportedly lives. The two households may be related. The boy darted across the road, as the trooper describes it. Collins applied the brakes. The car didn’t strike the boy with full force, but as it slowed to stop. “You know how a car comes to a stop and right at the end there’s a bump?” That’s how the trooper described the collision.
Janet and Don Gibson were in their house, a door down from the site of the collision. “The thud was really loud,” Don said. “I didn’t think you could make that loud a thud when you hit somebody.” Janet confused the sound with that of a boom box, a sound often heard down that busy street. The couple didn’t make anything of it. But later the couple noticed the flashing lights, and when they made it outside, the boy had been taken into an ambulance.
By then the county’s Fire Flight rescue helicopter had been placed on standby then taken off: it had sounded worse than it was, though it was bad enough: the boy had a bruised hip, the trooper said. But his life was not in danger. “Everybody’s shook up, but thankfully we don’t have to deal with a tragedy,” the trooper said.
There were no skid marks on the road, no visible sign of a collision on the Honda, and where the boy ended up after the collision was not far from the car, all of which, the trooper said, is consistent with the car going relatively slowly, and the collision happening as the car was stopping.
By 6:15 p.m., the boy and a relative were on their way to Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach. Less than half an hour later, EMTs in the ambulance reported that the boy was acting “age-appropriate,” another sign that a tragedy had been averted.
Florida Park Drive is a busy, narrow, two-lane road that flows with traffic from innumerable side streets. “Everybody comes from every angle and goes down this street,” Janet Gibson said. The neighbors where the boy is believed to live, her husband said, “park a lot of cars in that driveway. We always worry about something is going to happen when they back out of there.”
Traffic was closed on Florida Park Drive between Flintstone Court and Forest Hill Drive for 40 minutes, until 6:45 p.m.
The only evidence of the crash, besides a trooper finishing his work with lights flashing, by the side of the road, was a small, bright clump of a child’s clothes straddling the grass and the driveway of 129 Florida Park DDrive, where paramedics had tended to the boy.