4-Year-Old Killed After Jeep Crashes Into a DeSoto County Preschool
According to preliminary incident reports filed by troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol, an 18-year-old woman from Tampa was taken into custody earlier this week for her alleged connection to a deadly auto accident that claimed the life of a 4-year-old child at a local daycare.
As the relatives and friends of 4-year-old Maleena Faith Valdez continue to mourn the loss of their beloved family member, authorities with the Florida Highway Patrol are working diligently to determine the exact cause of the car accident that killed the young child. Details surrounding the case state that it was close to 4:30 p.m. on March 16, 2022, when 18-year-old Kiara Morant, an unlicensed driver from Tampa, was driving a Jeep Cherokee in the eastern direction of Magnolia Street near SE Mills Avenue in Arcadia. At this same time, a group of children were enjoying some fun in the sun at the outdoor fenced-in playground area of the Imagination Station Preschool.
For reasons that are currently unknown, the 18-year-old driver of the Jeep failed to maintain control of the vehicle and plowed through several roadside barriers, including a chain-link fence, multiple street signs, a raised curb, and a set of support beams by the preschool. Sadly, the Cherokee’s collision course continued onto the daycare’s property where the Jeep then crashed into a playground set where a 5-year-old child was playing with the 4-year-old victim. The Jeep finally came to a complete stop after slamming into a tree.
After multiple 9-1-1 calls, DeSoto County emergency response teams and officers with the Florida Highway Patrol were dispatched to the scene of the accident. The 4-year-old was taken to Gulf Coast Hospital but was unable to survive the severity of her injuries and she passed away shortly after arriving. The 5-year-old was transported in serious condition to DeSoto Memorial Hospital. No further information has been released regarding the surviving victim.
The driver of the Jeep Cherokee, Kiara Morant, sustained minor injuries during the incident and was also transported to DeSoto Memorial Hospital for treatment. Upon her release, she was arrested and taken to the county jail for not having a valid driver’s license. It is possible that Morant will face additional charges since the young victim died after she had already bonded out.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.