Five children aged 9-12 years old were hospitalized and four others suffered minor injuries when a van crashed into a tree in Dana Point Wednesday afternoon, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.
The crash occurred on a steep street, and a witness told NBC4 that the driver told her that the van's brakes failed and that she aimed for the smaller tree to stop. All of the children appeared to be wearing seat belts.
"There was definitely screeching, over and over again," said witness Hanea Sanchez.
The driver was not hurt, and four of the nine children did not require a trip to the hospital.
"She was mostly concerned with keeping it on the road as she came down the hill," Dana Point Harbor resident Shannon Reddington told the OC Register. "She was wailing on the horn."
The five children that were taken to a hospital were alert, according to reports on the scene. Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. and Dana Point Police Chief Margie Sheehan said the van was on its way to Baby Beach for an after-school outing that was unaffiliated with the Aliso Viejo school the students attended.
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A crash reconstruction was attempting to determine the cause. Photos from the scene showed the white van tangled with the tree, with a stack of surfboards that might have been atop the vehicle on the ground. The van also appeared to have been pulling a small trailer, which overturned.