9 Children Hurt After Vehicle Crashes Into Tree in Dana Point, Authorities Say

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Nine children were hurt, with five of them taken to a nearby trauma center, after a vehicle slammed into a tree in Dana Point on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

The incident happened at 3:19 p.m. near Dana Point Harbor Drive and Cove Road, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. The vehicle crashed into a tree, the O.C. Sheriff's Department said.

Five of the patients, ages 9 to 12, were transported to Mission Hospital, the Fire Authority said. While officials initially said they suffered traumatic injuries, they later said the children had moderate to minor injuries.

The five were taken to a trauma center out of an abundance of caution. All of the children were traveling inside the van at the time.

Meanwhile, four children received treatment for minor injuries before their parents picked them up, according to the agency. The children are all expected to be OK, according to authorities.

Hanea Sanchez, a witness, rushed to the scene of the crash after hearing the screams of children, who sounded "terrified" and in "fear for their life."

She said she tried keeping their bodies stable to prevent further injuries and stayed by their side, "just making sure they're not alone."

A little girl had a bloodied head injury that the driver of the van was tending to, Sanchez said, while a little boy also appeared to be injured in the head.

"I think he had a concussion," Sanchez said. "You could see that his eyes were not really responding."

The adult driver did not want to be taken to the hospital, authorities said.

She was questioned by authorities, who have ruled out the possibility drugs or alcohol may have played a role.

Rather, reports from witnesses indicate that some sort of mechanical malfunction or issue with brakes may have been the cause, according to O.C. Fire Captain Tony Bommarito.

The vehicle involved in the crash is in the process of being transferred to the ownership of Tammy Dye, DMV records show. A woman with that name helps run a child care program called Tammyland, as the facility's website indicates.

The program had a lunch and paddle boarding session at Baby Beach scheduled for Wednesday, according to its online calendar.

Sky5 footage of the crash site showed a white van that appeared badly damaged under some tree branches on the side of a road near a parking lot. A number of surfboards and a trailer were seen next to the vehicle.

The incident remained under investigation by the Sheriff's Department. Officials provided no further information.

KTLA's Marissa Wenzke contributed to this story.

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