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Injured girls stir concern of Garrison Keillor

Two 13-year-old girls who were hospitalized after being hit by a car over the weekend remain in the thoughts and prayers of friends, family and classmates.

They're also on the mind of one of the world's best-known writers.

Garrison Keillor took to his Facebook page this week to describe the tragedy unfolding for an Amherst family, whose daughter was seriously injured in an accident Saturday night.

Erin Suszynski, 13, remains in critical condition in Women & Children's Hospital. Briana Francois, also 13, has been upgraded from critical to serious condition in Erie County Medical Center's traumatic intensive care unit.

Keillor learned of Erin's condition in an email from a friend who was also a friend of the Suszynski family. In his first of two postings, Keillor said he learned "from a friend that her friend's 13-year-old daughter had been hit by a car "

"Two girls crossing a busy suburban street at 7:30 p.m., stopped at the median, then darted into the path of a Jeep," he wrote.

Tuesday morning, Erin's family issued the following statement as their 13-year-old daughter lay in critical condition in Women & Children's Hospital:

"The family of Erin Suszynski wishes to express their deep thanks and appreciation for all of the prayers, warm wishes and the abundance of cards which surround her bedside. They also send warm thanks to to the doctors, nurses and staff of Women & Children's Hospital.

"Erin remains in critical condition with her family at her side. They ask for continued prayers and privacy during this difficult time."

Erin and Briana, and a third girl, crossed the westbound lanes of Maple Road near Millard Fillmore Hospital at about 7:25 p.m. Saturday. The girls stopped at a center median and then attempted to cross the eastbound lanes of Maple when they were struck by a Jeep driven by Maria E. Hoelzl, 50, of the Town of Tonawanda. Thomas Moss, an on-duty police officer, witnessed the crash while stopped at the intersection of Maple and Culpepper Road, in front of the home of Barry Weinstein, Amherst supervisor, who was in Maryland at the time. No charges were filed against the driver. An investigation is being conducted by Senior Accident Investigator Kelly Seier. The name of the third girl, who was not hurt, was not released.

The girls attend Mill Middle School, where extra counselors have been brought in to help students through the week who seek counseling. "Our thoughts and prayers and support remain with the girls and their families," said Rita Wolff, spokeswoman for the school district.

SS. Peter & Paul Parish in Williamsville will hold a prayer vigil Wednesday evening for the two young women who were seriously injured. Erin, who was critically injured, is a religious education student at SS. Peter & Paul.

e-mail: msommer@buffnews.com