The car hit a group of parents and children buying snacks from a grocery store after school. People banged on the car windows and hollered at the driver to stop, but some of the children had already been trapped under the wheels, the Associated Press reported.
Firefighters arrived on the scene to find four children in a critical condition and were hospitalized, city fire capt. Jaime Moore was reported as saying by the Associated Press. Everyone was expected to survive, he added.
The driver was identified as Preston Carter and the police said he was cooperating in every way.
Police Capt. George Rodriguez said Carter was driving out of the grocery store parking lot and backed on to the sidewalk. "I think it was a miscalculation on his part. The gentleman is elderly," Rodriguez said. "Obviously he is going to have some impairment on his decision making."
Speaking to news channels, Carter said he regretted his blunder. "My brakes failed. It was out of control," he told KCAL TV.
When asked about injuring the children, the centenarian said, "You know I'm sorry about that. I wouldn't do that for nothing on earth. My sympathies for them."
Carter holds a driver's license and will be 101 years old Sept. 5.
The hit was being treated as a case of an accident and Carter was not under arrest since he holds a valid driver's license, Rodriguez said.
With motor and cognitive skills slowing down as people age, tragedies such as this one are bound to happen when an older person is behind the wheel. In 2003, an 86-year-old man mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal of his car and the car plowed into an open-air market in Santa Monica. Ten people were killed and 63 injured in the incident, the Associated Press reported.
The California's Department of Motor Vehicles has made it mandatory for anyone over the age of 70 to renew their driver's license in person, rather than by the Internet or mail. Septuagenarians and above are required to take a driving test if they fail a vision exam or if a police officer, a physician or a family member has doubts about their driving competency.