Truck hits students at Calif. high school; 9 hurt

By the Associated Press | May 31, 2012 | 1:43 PM EDT

A Hemet High student is tended to by Cal Fire/Riverside County Paramedics after a truck struck eight people in a crosswalk in front of the school Wednesday, May 30, 2012 in Hemet, Calif. (AP Photo/The Press-Enterprise, Kevin Pearson) NO SALES; MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

HEMET, Calif. (AP) — A high school student in a pickup truck ran into a group of teenagers who were crossing a street outside a California high school Wednesday, leaving nine people injured, and backpacks and clothing strewn across an intersection, officials said.

The accident occurred shortly after school ended for the day at Hemet High School, Riverside County fire officials said in a statement.

Three people were in critical condition, five more were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, and one refused treatment, they said.

The driver, a student at the school, ran into a group of eight people who were in an intersection headed toward the student parking lot and the school's football stadium, principal Emily Shaw said.

"The kids were in the crosswalk doing everything right," Shaw said.

Seven of the people struck were students, and the eighth person was a 60-year-old woman, Shaw said. Her relationship to the school was not clear.

Witnesses told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that the driver, who was in a white Ford Ranger modified for off-road use, was in a right-turn-only lane that heads into the parking lot, but accelerated into the intersection, running a red light and hitting the pedestrians.

"He revved the throttle like crazy. We heard the RPMs build," student Alex Bissett told the newspaper. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. I've seen a lot of crazy stuff, but this tops it."

The newspaper said the driver was detained by the California Highway Patrol, the agency investigating the crash.

No names or ages of anyone involved were immediately released.

Backpacks and clothing were strewn near the school following the crash, NBC4-TV reported.

School activities director Al Fernandes said his 17-year-old daughter was among those hit. He told the Press-Enterprise the girl was conscious and talking but extremely sore at Moreno Valley Regional Medical Center.

Hemet is a desert community about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

The collision came with just two days left in the school year and on the last day of classes for seniors, whose graduation ceremony is Friday night.

The Press-Enterprise reports that there were no seniors among the victims.