Driver in Arcadia day care crash likely to take plea deal

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

A woman accused of plowing a Jeep into an Arcadia day care and killing a 4-year-old girl may take a plea deal.

Kiara Morant, 18 at the time of the crash, is accused of killing Maleena Valdez when she crashed a Jeep through the fence of Imagination Station’s playground in March 2022. Morant has been behind bars since the crash.

While Morant originally entered a plea of not guilty, it is believed she may change her plea to guilty and then be sentenced. She will be at the DeSoto County Courthouse at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday.

Police said Morant was driving without a license on the day of the crash.

When WINK News spoke to Maleena’s mother, Savannah Valdez, in 2022, she said she wants Morant to stay behind bars and she wants Imagination Station to be held accountable.

“I really thought my daughter was safe there, you know?” Valdez said. “She’s been there for almost a year. She was going to graduate, and they got all that stuff donated, and it took for my daughter to lose her life.”

The day care has since installed several safety measures to prevent future crashes into the playground, putting in guardrails and concrete blocks and replacing the turn warning signs that the Jeep crashed into.

“We are still going, we are still grieving every day … every day we think about her,” Valdez said. “How did this happen? Why did this happen? You know, I mean, it’s just– I don’t understand. I’m trying to understand. I’m trying to cope with it still, but I can’t.”

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