A 4-year-old girl from New Jersey is among three members of the same family killed when a suspected drunk driver blew a stop sign and hit the family’s car, police say.
The little girl’s father Robinson Hernandez spoke with NBC 4 Monday and provided a photo of his daughter. Her name is Kiara Hernandez. He said Kiara’s mother and grandmother were also killed in the crash.
As well as the three deaths, six other members of the New Jersey family were also hurt in the crash, which happened at an intersection in upstate New York as the family was on a Memorial Day weekend road trip to Niagara Falls.
Four other children were among the injured, Wyoming County Sheriff Gregory Rudolph said — two other 4-year-olds and a 10-year-old.
“Anytime a child is involved – and in this case, we had five – it pulls at you,” he told The Daily News of Batavia. “It’s a tragedy.”
Investigators believe a man driving a pickup truck ran a stop sign and hit the family’s SUV around 6:30 a.m. Sunday at an intersection in Sheldon, said Rudolph. Sheldon is a small town about 30 miles southeast of Buffalo.
The SUV was carrying nine members of the same family — one man, three women and five children. The impact hurled two women from the SUV, killing them at the scene of the crash. The 4-year-old was taken to a hospital with head injuries and didn’t survive.
Audio from the emergency dispatcher paints a harrowing picture of the scene police came across. “I have an MVA at 20A and Maxon Road…there are people laying in the roadway,” the dispatcher says. An officer replies: “Gonna have to get Mercy Flight on standby… I got a least 5 to 6 people .. infants … down.”
Six others, including four children ranging in age from 4 to 14, were taken to hospitals. One man was released after treatment. The others’ conditions weren’t immediately available.
None of the relatives’ identities or hometowns were released as authorities worked to notify their family.
The pickup driver, Richard Sawicki, 20, was arrested on aggravated vehicular homicide, DWI and reckless driving charges. He was arraigned and held on $200,000 bond.
Messages were left at his lawyer’s office and possible phone numbers for his Lackawanna home. Sawicki is due back in court June 10.