INDIANAPOLIS – Two robbery suspects fleeing police lost control of their sport utility vehicle and crashed into a day care center Thursday, injuring four children and an employee in a shower of bricks and other debris, police said.
About 18 children were inside the Stepping Stones Child Care when the SUV slammed into the brick building on the city's north side about 12:15 p.m., Lt. Jeff Duhamell said.
Kara Hardister, who runs the church-owned day care, said the crash sent bricks and debris flying into a room for 3-year-olds just before their afternoon nap time.
The car burst into flames shortly after the crash, but officers quickly extinguished the fire.
"It's just senseless, just senseless, that innocent people have to go through this," Hardister said.
One of the four children was in critical condition but stable at Methodist Hospital, while the other three had non-life-threatening injuries, Duhamell said.
A woman working at the day care center suffered a broken leg when she was struck by bricks, and another person was injured when the SUV hit a car during the police chase. Duhamell said those injuries weren't serious.
He said police arrested two people in the SUV, one of whom required stitches to a hand.
Officers were chasing the SUV following an armed robbery at a nearby Family Dollar store when the crash occurred, Duhamell said. Police later apprehended two men, who he said would likely face several felony charges, including armed robbery, fleeing police and reckless driving causing injuries.
As of late afternoon, police had not released the names of the suspects or the injured.
Tenants in a nearby building said the crash sounded like gunfire. As the SUV sped toward the day care, narrowly missing a telephone pole, it tore through shrubbery, scattering branches across the center's parking lot before plowing into the building.
Hours later, it remained lodged in the side of the center.
Whittney Rutland said she raced to the day care center to check on her 3-year-old son, Armohni (ar-MON'-ee) Preswood, after hearing about the crash. She ran through the police tape and found out that her son was safe and had been taken to a nearby day care center.
"I ran through there and stuff was dropping out of my purse," she said. "I was so scared."
Hardister said 40 to 45 children are typically in the building midday. At the time of the crash, she was with about two dozen of the center's youngsters about 5 miles away in downtown Indianapolis for a performance of Disney on Ice.
Hardister, who choked back tears while talking to reporters, said she was angry at the two suspects, one of whom she said smashed out a window as the men tried to flee the scene.
"It's chaos — there's a big car in the room, through the wall," she said. "The parents are very shaken about it. The phone inside is ringing off the hook."