A runaway van that careened down an embankment outside a Hall County school came to a stop without striking anyone as school was letting out today, school officials said.
Hall County schools spokesman Gordon Higgins said the incident occurred about 2:30 p.m. at Riverbend Elementary School at the intersection of U.S. 129 and Clarks Bridge Road when a parent was getting out of her Dodge Caravan to greet a child she had come to pick up.
The mother, identified by authorities as 27-year-old Carmen Ramirez, thought she left the van in park, but watched in horror as the van, with her 1-year-old daughter inside, rolled away.
Georgia State Patrol officials said the van rolled about 115 feet, knocking down a chain link fence, passing between two cars and jumping a curb into the adjacent Federal Credit Union property before coming to a stop against a utility guidewire. The girl was not in a child restraint, but was buckled into a booster seat in the rear of the van, officials said. She was not injured, but was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center and examined as a precaution.
The driverless van went between a line of cars that had lined up to get children after school, and also missed striking a utility pole at the bottom of the hill, Higgins said.
"It really was a miracle," Higgins said.
Ramirez was cited for driving without a license and failure to use proper child restraint.