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Press Release Detail


Statement Regarding Accident in Collier County

For immediate release:

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Tallahassee -- On the evening of Thursday, December 8, a vehicle carrying seven youths and driven by an employee of the AMIkids program in Collier County, a Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) contract provider, was involved in an accident in the Florida Everglades. The employee was driving the youths back to the program from an athletic event earlier in the day. Emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene and transported the driver and youths to the nearest hospital.

The driver, Johnson Atilard, 25, of Cape Coral, and one of the youths, Daniel Huerta, 17, of Bonita Springs, were pronounced dead at the hospital. The other six youths were treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is investigating the accident and the DJJ Inspector General is conducting an investigation to determine compliance with agency and provider policies, procedures and standards.

"All of us at DJJ are profoundly saddened at the loss of life and injuries sustained in this tragic accident,” said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters. “We express our deepest condolences to the relatives of Johnson Atilard and Daniel Huerta."

"At this time, we remain focused on meeting the needs of the kids and staff at the AMIkids campus," added O.B. Stander, President and CEO of AMIkids. "We have provided mental health counselors to our students and staff who have been greatly impacted by this tragic loss. We extend our deepest sympathies to families during this very difficult time."

Click here for the FHP media release.

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