GATES, NY (WROC) — Two children who were seriously hurt when they were hit by a car Thursday night are expected to survive.
Police say their father, Jamie McDonald, was pulling them through a parking lot on Lyell Avenue in a wagon when they were hit. The woman driving the car, Letoya Palmo, lost control when she turned around to check on her children in the back seat. According to police, Palmo’s kids were not buckled in at the time.
Palmo’s car swerved into the parking lot, hitting the wagon, pinning the children underneath and dragging them about 50 feet. First responders were able to get the kids out from under the car and they were rushed to Strong Memorial Hospital. Those on the scene described it as horrific. Many of them are parents themselves. They took the time to speak with News 8 about the accident.
“On scene time was 50 seconds from the time of the call,” said Capt. Nick Amendolare.
Amendolare says the response time was quick. They used the jaws of life to get McDonald’s children out from under Palmo’s vehicle. It was four minutes from the call until the time they got the second child out.
“They were both critical. I don’t have the update as to how they’re doing today,” said Capt. Amendolare. This is one of the more serious incidents he’s dealt with in his 13 years. “It really pulls at your heartstrings. Nobody wants this to happen.”
Capt. Jennifer Everett, of Gates Volunteer Ambulance was also on scene. “This is the kind of thing that keeps you up at night,” said Everett.
And coping with something like that can be difficult for first responders going forward. Some of the EMS team from Thursday night was given Friday off for healing.
“Our peer support teams have been reaching out to them, said Capt. Everett. “It’s critical all the time that we think about our responders’ safety and their mental health safety as well.”
For first responders like Firefighter Matt Guard, he says many systems exist within the firefighting and EMS communities. “Work with each other, talk with each other. A lot of people say the firehouse is a second family for us, it’s true,” said Guard.
It’s that sense of camaraderie that gets Firefighter Guard and many other first responders through accidents like last night’s. “It’s like we got family one and family one-a. It’s pretty close.”
The Gates police chief says that the wagon the kids were in likely saved their lives.
Palmo was charged with reckless driving, moving from a lane unsafely, uninspected vehicle, and two tickets for an unrestrained child. She set to appear in court on July 23.