Six students from the private Girls' Middle School and three adults were injured in a three-car collision at a major intersection in Palo Alto during the Tuesday morning commute, police and a school spokeswoman said.
Around 8 a.m., firefighters were called for a rescue at East Charleston and San Antonio roads, near the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, city dispatchers said over the public-safety radio.
Emergency responders arrived to find a van carrying nine girls on its side. Initially, all nine girls reportedly minor injuries, according to the Police Department, which later clarified that six were injured. Three adults also suffered minor injuries.
Kimberly Yarnall, communications and development director for The Girls' Middle School (GMS), confirmed that the girls attend the private school on West Bayshore Road. All nine of them were back in school on Wednesday and the van driver set to return on Thursday.
"We are relieved and thankful that none sustained serious injury from the accident yesterday," Yarnall said Wednesday. "We are grateful for the support from our parents and staff at GMS, the neighboring schools who have offered resources and concern, and all of the firefighters and people in the area during the accident who turned out to provide immediate assistance."
A BMW 328 sports car driven by a man was traveling west on San Antonio Road collided with a van driven by a man heading north on East Charleston Road. The van spun around and turned on its side. A third car, a Kia Sportage SUV driven by a woman, then collided with the BMW, which was in the intersection.
"It was originally reported that the nine passengers in the van would be transported to the hospital," police spokeswoman De la Vega said Tuesday. The injured were treated at the scene by emergency personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department.
The cause of the collision, which blocked northbound East Charleston Road at San Antonio Road for about an hour, is under investigation.
City officials have been exploring in recent months various ways to improve safety at the intersection of San Antonio and Charleston. On Wednesday night, the Planning and Transportation Commission will consider several different concepts, including removal of one of the two southbound right-turn lanes on San Antonio. Read our story from the meeting here.
According to a report from Planning Director Jonathan Lait, the city has been hearing from residents, employees and visitors to the community center about "a history of collisions, pedestrian safety and congestion during the peak hours" at this intersection. During a five year period between Jan. 2012 and Dec. 25, the intersection had about 25 reported collisions, according to Lait's report. Most were determined to be caused by unsafe speed or improper turning, the report states.