What began as a delightful day for dozens of children at Children of America childcare in Southampton unexpectedly became a horrendous terror one quiet afternoon. It was Thursday, Feb. 27. About 1:30 p.m. Some 79 kids were in the building, 14 of the younger ones napping in a front room when the unforeseen occurred.
In a flash and without warning, a large window shatters and sharp pieces of glass arbitrarily fly about a formerly still front room along with some unobtrusive building material. Some furniture is hit and damaged. Suddenly, distressing cries and screams, strangely matched with the rumble of a BMW vehicle that had just blasted about 40 feet through the window and rammed a back wall of a room where three- and four-year-old children peacefully had been napping. In no time at all, sirens pierce the air as several emergency vehicles with flashing red lights quickly arrive at the frantic scene. Emergency personnel scramble about. Five children are put into ambulances and rushed to the hospital, one in serious condition.
Since that frightening day, said Ted Hockenberry, Chief Executive Officer, Children of America Educational Childcare, the site has been closed but since has seen marked improvement.
“All five children have been released from the hospital and are recovering in the comfort of their own home,” he said. “Our sister schools in the area have been a huge help and have welcomed nearly all families from our Southampton location into their respective schools.”
Special attention has been given to affected children.
Said Hockenberry: “We are continuing to work with each family and staff member individually to make the transition as smooth and welcoming as possible.”
An errant delivery vehicle caused the calamity that day when for no apparent reason it slammed into the center at 345 Knowles Ave. near the Giant supermarket. At last count, according to Jim O’Malley, spokesman, Bucks county District Attorney’s office, no charges have been filed against the unnamed Philadelphia driver.
“I don’t have any updates,” he recently said.
The Children of America site has undergone a structural review for safety and reconstruction, said Hockenberry.
“Members of our executive and facilities team met with the owner and contractor on site to further assess the damage and determine next steps, which include a complete safety assessment,” he said. “A structural engineer will visit the site, and we expect construction will commence shortly after.”
When might Children of America, with schools already open in Warminster and Willow Grove, reopen in Southampton?
“A more accurate timetable for a reopening of the site will be determined over the coming weeks as construction begins,” he said.