GATES, N.Y. (WROC) – Family members of the two children who were struck by a distracted driver in Gates last summer held a prayer and released balloons on Saturday on the one-year anniversary of the accident.
The balloon release was to express their thanks that the children survived.
Jamie McDonald was pulling his two children, Luke and Lily, in a red wagon on Lyell Avenue in July 2019 when they were struck. Lily was 2 years old and Luke was 10 months old when the crash took place.
The driver, Letoya Palmo, dragged the children 50 feet under her vehicle. Palmo was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail.
In just one year, it’s been a long road of emotions and healing.
“My son has a few more surgeries down the line, but my daughter Lily, she doesn’t need any more surgeries as of now but it’s getting better day by day,” said McDonald.
The family is calling it a miracle. First responders didn’t think the children would make it at first.
“God did the greatest miracle of all, I mean I could’ve lost my kids that day,” said McDonald.
McDonald had to educate one driver in a Walmart parking lot who pulled out on his phone. The accident involving his kids has showed him how serious it can be for a driver to be distracted in any way.
“I don’t know how many times I drive, and I see someone on their phone or in hand … it does bother me,” he said.
The grandmother of the children said she had spent many days with the children as they were in the hospital, and helped out with medical care.
“It breaks your heart, to see what they (kids) go through. They don’t understand what they went through,” said Patti Polino, grandmother of the children.
McDonald said faith and God are what kept him persevering through the tough times.
“Every single day I knelt by my son and daughter’s bed praying, asking God to protect them and heal them,” said McDonald.
Even in a spot where a tragic incident happened, the family was able to focus their energy and thoughts on gratitude, and joy for being alive together.
The family also wants to thank first-responders, police officers and staff at Strong Memorial Hospital for all of their help on the journey.