NORTH SMITHFIELD – A woman who witnesses say was driving with seven passengers – including a two-year-old on her lap – crashed into a pickup truck on Route 146 on Sunday, March 26.
The driver and two children were transported from the scene with minor injuries, thanks, in part, to help from some good samaritans.
The accident occurred in the southbound side of the busy highway, by the turnaround to change direction, around 4:30 p.m. Sunday evening, according to North Smithfield Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Thomas Dybala. One vehicle, a mid-sized SUV with eight occupants, had collided with a pickup truck carrying a male driver and two kids.
Richard and Cheryl Savaria of North Smithfield heard the crash and say they rushed to help.
“We heard the brakes,” Richard said. “We’re both medics so we headed down there.”
The couple arrived before emergency personnel and found a somewhat chaotic scene. Savaria said the air bag on the SUV had deployed, hitting the baby sitting on the driver’s lap.
“There was a two-year-old on the ground,” Savaria said. “The baby was stable on my examination.”
A 12-year-old child in the car was also unrestrained, and both children were transported with minor injuries. An additional five passengers in the vehicle, including children, were not injured.
Savaria said language barriers further complicated the matter. The SUV driver, a woman from Woonsocket who is reportedly the children’s aunt, only spoke Spanish. She was also transported to Rhode Island Hospital with minor injuries.
“How do you fit eight people in a car like that? I was upset,” Savaria said. “It was really rotten.”
The occupants of the truck were not injured, according to Dybala.
“We just double-teamed everything,” Richard said of assessing injuries from the accident. “Everyone was loaded in the rescue. It was a big team effort.”
Rhode Island State Police were also on scene. Asked if any charges or citations were filed against the SUV driver, RISP said Thursday, March 30 that the accident is still under investigation and the information has not been released.
Following the accident, the North Smithfield Police Department issued a warning about the importance of safety harnesses.
“The chief reiterated that it is always important to properly restrain children inside vehicles and follow safety laws at all times,” said Administrative Aide Tafida Allen.
North Smithfield Police Chief Tim Lafferty also noted that Det. Greg Chito is a certified car seat installer within the department and available to help families who need it.