BRISTOL — A youth soccer tournament involving more than a thousand young children and their families was just getting under way Saturday morning when an out-of-control sport utility vehicle plowed onto the field, injuring four spectators and the driver before crashing into the goal, according to the town’s police chief.
No one was killed in the crash on the playing field next to Mount Abraham Union High School, but Chief Kevin Gibbs said Saturday afternoon that a woman run over by the Jeep Liberty was undergoing surgery.
“Her injuries appear to be the most severe,” Gibbs said by telephone.
The chief didn’t release the names of those injured in the crash, including the driver, who he said was taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care. He did say that two of the injured were children, ages 6 and 8.
The driver, a man who Gibbs said appeared to be in his 40s, has not been charged with any crime.
The chief said the crash may have been caused by a seizure or other medical condition that caused the driver to hit the accelerator — pushing aside two parked cars before racing across the field.
“It could have been worse if those cars weren’t parked there,” he said. “There was quite a large crowd on the field. Hundreds of people were there.”
More than 1,100 soccer players from kindergarten through the sixth grade had signed up to play in the daylong event, according to Mount Abraham principal Andy Kepes. Hundreds of family members and friends had gathered to watch them play as well, he said.
The tournament featured children from all over Addison County and beyond, he added.
“Cars were parked up and down the street and in every one of the lots,” he said. “It’s amazing how many cars were there.”
Gibbs said the driver of the SUV had just dropped off his children at the traffic circle next to the school and was looking for a place to park when the incident occurred.
The chief said the woman and the two children were run over by the vehicle while a man estimated to be about 60 years old was struck and thrown onto the hood.
No conditions were available for any of the injured. However, the chief said the 8-year-old had been treated and released from the hospital. Some of the injured were taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington while others were taken to Porter Medical Center in Middlebury.
Gibbs said drugs and alcohol use hadn’t been ruled out as potential factors in the crash and he said an officer at the hospital with the driver would gather samples for analysis. However, he said evidence at the scene suggested that a medical condition was to blame for the crash.
Police are asking anyone with video footage of the crash to call police at 453-2533. Police are also looking for the owner of a van that was damaged in the crash.
Gibbs said the owner moved the van and could not be found later at the scene.
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