Girl, 4, Killed and 5-Year-Old Seriously Injured in Playground Car Crash

A 4-year-old girl was killed and another child, aged 5, was injured in a car crash at a Florida playground, according to police.

The crash happened after the driver of a Jeep Cherokee went off the road near East Magnolia Street in Arcadia at about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

A Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) press release seen by Newsweek said the SUV struck several things before it reached the playground of a preschool.

FHP troopers said in the report that two children were struck by the SUV before the vehicle came to a halt when it smashed into a tree.

The 4-year-old girl was taken to the Gulf Coast Hospital for treatment but was pronounced dead after she arrived, according to the FHP press release. Police said the 5-year-old girl was being treated at DeSoto Memorial Hospital after being taken there in a serious condition.

An 18-year-old woman, Kiara Morant, was identified as the driver of the SUV and was arrested for driving without a valid license, ABC affiliate WFTS reported.

FHP troopers said the SUV hit wooden support posts, playground equipment, a chain-link fence and other equipment before the vehicle then crashed into the tree.

In a Wednesday Facebook post, the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office (DCSO) encouraged drivers to avoid the area. The post read: "Traffic delays. Please avoid the area of Magnolia Street near Mills Avenue. Traffic delays are expected resulting from a vehicle crash with injuries."

Later that day, the DCSO said the lanes had reopened and that traffic could flow through once again.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 2,950 fatal crashes in Florida in 2019. The report also found that 3,183 people died in crashes in Florida that same year.

The IIHS report, first released in March 2021, found there were 14.8 deaths per 100,000 people in Florida in 2019.

Earlier this year, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced he intended to reduce the number of traffic deaths in the U.S.

His announcement in January came after more than half of U.S. states recorded a rise in fatal crashes within the first nine months of 2021.

Buttigieg told The Associated Press the upwards trend was unacceptable and that he intended to use grants over the next two years to encourage states to use speed cameras, introduce lower speeds and implement bike and bus lanes.

Buttigieg said in a statement, via the AP: "We cannot tolerate the continuing crisis of roadway deaths in America. These deaths are preventable."

Stock image of police car
Stock image of police car. The 4-year-old girl died of her injuries. Getty