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Preschool Is Sued Again Over Deaths

Parents of second child killed when car crashed onto playground file suit alleging center did too little to protect children.

March 16, 2000|ANN L. KIM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The parents of a 4-year-old girl killed last May when a man rammed his car through a Costa Mesa day care center filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging the preschool did not do enough to protect children.

According to the complaint, filed in Orange County Superior Court, the Southcoast Early Childhood Learning Center "was situated on the corner of a busy street with a considerable traffic flow," and "there should have been formidable obstacles, fences and safeguards to protect the children."

Sierra Soto and 4-year-old Brandon Wiener were killed May 3 when a car burst through the school's fence and into a group of toddlers on the playground. Four other children and a teacher were also injured.

Steven Allen Abrams, the driver of the vehicle, is awaiting trial on multiple murder charges and could face the death penalty. Abrams and the churches that own the preschool land also are named in the lawsuit.

The Sotos' lawsuit follows a similar one filed in January by the Wiener family. The Sotos could not be reached for comment.

The preschool's director, Sheryl Hawkinson, named as a co-defendant in both suits, said she was shocked by the lawsuit. Both familiesdedicated a plaque at the school in honor of their children, and one of the Wieners' children still attends Southcoast, Hawkinson said.

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