ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News channel 5)- Everyday after school around twenty students and four teachers arrive at the Alexandria Day Care Center for an after school program. But on Thursday- the kids and adults missed what could have been a deadly accident by just minutes. News Channel 5's Rachael Penton has the story.
Don Walley has been operating the Alexandria Day Care Center on Bayou Rapides Road since 1983. On Thursday Walley experienced the scariest day since the day care's opening.
"I got a phone call that the building had been hit," says Don Walley, owner of the center.
It all started around three o'clock when deputies attempted to arrest 31 year old James Earl Johnson Jr. for a traffic violation.
"Deputies attempted to make contact with him and that's when he took off," says Lt. Tommy Carnline with RPSO.
The speed limit on the road is 25 miles per hour- but witnesses estimate Johnson was traveling about 80 miles an hour as he rounded this curve in the road.
"They were about to terminate the pursuit and that's when he went around the bus, rolled up onto the levee, and then crashed into the daycare," adds Carnline.
Johnson plowed into the empty daycare center, turning cinder block walls and children's toys into debris.
"The owner tells us that if the crash had happened just 15 minutes later, about 20 children would have been right inside this building."
"I was thankful. We were blessed. God was with us," says Walley.
No innocent bystanders or deputies were hurt during this short pursuit, but RPSO says that's not always the case. That's why they tried to call off this one.
"Public safety is our utmost concern and if the safety of the public outweighs us catching them at that time then that's what we'll do, but we will catch them," adds Carnline.
As for the daycare- Don Walley plans to tear down what's left of it. He says there will never be a daycare at this spot again.
"You could build what you wanted and no one would let their kids come there and you couldn't blame them. It's a scary thing."
Johnson is being treated at a local hospital where he under guard by RPSO deputies. Johnson is facing multiple charges including no seat belt, aggravated flight from an officer, overtaking a school bus, and two counts of drug possession in a school zone.