KEARNS, Utah (ABC4) — A suspected drunk driver crashed into a Kearns child care center on New Year’s Eve. No one was in the building, but families are now wondering what to do next.
The surveillance footage shows a car careening near 4820 west, ripping through two fences and then crashing into the Kearns Early Childhood Head Start Center around 10:30 p.m. — leaving a huge hole in the wall and rubble all over the classroom.
Parents said that learning about the crash was a huge surprise.
“A lot went through my mind. What if my kids happened to be there during that time? Because my kids are my world,” said Cassie Grow, who has two children that attend the Head Start center.
Sgt. Melody Cutler with the Unified Police Department said the crash happened around 10:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. She said the driver, a 21-year-old woman, asked witnesses for a ride after the crash, which they refused. She, and two male passengers, left the scene.
She was later found by a West Valley City police K-9, arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and taken to the hospital for injuries related to the crash. Cutler said officers are still looking for the two other passengers.
“We feel incredibly lucky that no one was hit, [and] that another life was not taken,” Cutler said.
Jennifer Godfrey, the CEO of Utah Community Action, which runs these programs in Salt Lake and Tooele counties, said their services are vital for families with young children that are experiencing poverty.
“Families are dependent on us for services for their children for 6 hours or more a day and that allows individuals, our families, to work, go to school, ensure that their individual and family needs are met knowing that their children are safe and in our care,” she said.
Cassie Grow said she has had meals dropped off and her kids have been able to continue learning virtually – but the closure has been difficult.
“I can’t afford child care, and I depend on that a lot in order to go to work. My daughter has special needs so she has a lot of doctor appointments — 2 or 3 times a week. It’s tough, taking all the kids with me,” she said.
Godfrey said they’re looking to move students from this classroom to another location in West Valley City early next week. As for the center in Kearns, they don’t know when it will be safe to use again.