Deadly daycare van crash witness alleges four kids were using one seat belt

James Jaggers
James Jaggers
The accident scene.
The accident scene.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It has been a week since a Louisville daycare van crashed into a tree sending 14 children to the hospital and killing one adult.

James Jaggers has had an emotional week. The Louisville mechanic and his son Austin, a football player at Eastern Kentucky University, were on Algonquin Parkway with another friend June12, when they saw the Heavenly Angels Daycare van go horribly out of control.

"It was coming at us," Jaggers recalled, "and all at once, it darted across (the road) and into a tree."

Jaggers said they rushed to force open the door and found children thrown all over the van. He said four young children were on the floor in front of him. "They were moving and crying and stuff like that you know, so I braced their heads and started handing them out to my son and his friend."

"The driver was pushed all the way back and there was a baby in a baby seat. The baby was mounted backwards and was properly in the seat, I noticed she had blood coming out of her mouth but, the thing was, and I'm just going to tell the truth, they had four kids in one seat belt," Jaggers explained.

Jaggers said the other adult in the van, 31-year-old Tiffany Belk, was trapped between the second and third seat. "She was begging me to get her out and I promised her I would, but I couldn't get her out," Jaggers cried, "there was just too much going on!"

Belk didn't make it. That was devastating on two counts for Jaggers. Not only seeing what was in front of him, but a painful past. In January of 2009, Jaggers witnessed another deadly crash into a tree.

Jaggers said that is when a drunk driver forced him and his brother, Kevin, off the road.

Kevin, a 42-year-old logistics specialist at UPS and a former PRP football player, was the first person in the family to graduate from college. "It's hard to lose a real live hero," Jaggers wept. "I can't say in my life that I had very many heroes and he was one of them. The van hitting that tree just took me right back there."

This time, Jaggers only hopes he was of some kind of help to the children. "I would really like to think so," Jaggers said. "Since I let Tiffany down, it just really bothers me. It bothers me, that I'm probably the last person she ever talked to."

Jaggers, who also played football at U of L and EKU, said he and the two boys gave their statements to police.

He said he never saw a wheel come loose as the van ran off the road. He said he only heard a back tire pop and explode after the crash.

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