SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – One man has been arrested for striking two juveniles with his vehicle Thursday morning as they were trying to cross the street to get to their bus.
According to city officials, Sevierville Police Department detectives arrested 47-year-old Pablo Hernandez of Sevierville when he turned himself in after leaving the scene.
Hernandez is charged with felony leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury. A citation for operating a vehicle without a valid driver’s license is pending.
Sevierville Police responded to a report of two children struck by a vehicle in the area of 701 W. Main St. just before 7 a.m.
According to witnesses, a pick-up truck traveling west on West Main Street struck the two children as they were crossing the road.
Sabrina Osborne was one of those witnesses.
Osborne said she was waiting with her son for the bus about 10 to 20 minutes before the incident when she saw the two kids start to cross the road.
Osborne said she always sees the children cross the road in the mornings.
“They’ve always been really careful. If there’s cars coming, they always stop in the middle, of the turn lane. They always stop in the turn lane, if there’s something coming on either side, and then they’ll finishing crossing. So it wasn’t like them just to keep going if they saw a car coming,” Osborne said.
Osborne said she wasn’t sure at first if the truck actually struck the children, but then she saw the 16-year-old nearly fly into the air and land on the shoulder of the road.
Osborne immediately ran to the 6-year-old to get him out of the middle of the road.
“I just cradled his head against my chest and ran with them to the side of the road,” she said.
Osborne said she saw the truck run over the 6-year-old twice, which is one reason she believes there was no way the driver didn’t know they had hit someone or something.
Osborne also said that even though the sun hadn’t fully risen yet, the area is well lit and she could see the children from where she was parked.
She said her 5-year-old rode the same bus as the two children who were struck by the truck.
Osborne said the bus wasn’t at the stop yet, but she wouldn’t be surprised if other students on the bus saw a glimpse of what happened because it was just down the road.
Her son, who was sitting in the car with her, saw it happen as well.
“My little one is going to have nightmares for a while because he really doesn’t understand,” Osborne said.
Following the incident, detectives with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office received information as to the identity of the driver. Shortly thereafter, authorities said the driver, Hernandez, came to the Sheriff’s Office on his own accord.
Both children were transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. One child, a 6-year-old male was reportedly in critical condition. The condition of the second child, a 16-year-old male has multiple injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.