A woman and four children were injured when a minivan went off the road into a ditch and flipped several times Saturday afternoon in Wilson. The driver and two of the most seriously injured children were later airlifted from the scene.
The Niagara County Sheriff's Office and the South Wilson Fire Department responded to the one-vehicle crash at about 4:10 p.m. on Route 425, a half-mile south of the intersection of New and Chestnut roads.
A minivan driven by 30-year-old Brittany Tatu of Lockport and carrying four children was traveling south in the 3400 block of Route 425, which is known as Wilson-Cambria Road in that area, when the vehicle drifted off the road into a ditch on the southbound, or west, side and struck a culvert at a driveway, according to Sheriff James Voutour, who was at the scene.
The heavily damaged minivan rolled several times before coming to a stop on its roof at a telephone pole. The minivan traveled about 200 feet in total after entering the ditch.
"She may have been distracted," Voutour said. "We just don't know yet."
The youngest child in the minivan was 3 or 4 and the oldest was 13, according to sheriff's officials at the scene.
Ralph Tagg, a member of the South Wilson Fire Department, was immediately on the scene because the minivan traveled across his front lawn after hitting the culvert.
"My wife heard the sound of the crash, and I went running out and cut the children from the vehicle. I used a knife to cut away the seatbelts," said Tagg, who was praised by deputies at the scene for his quick response. Tagg said the children were awake and screaming when he got to them.
Luckily for the occupants of the minivan, the Taggs had returned from an out-of-town vacation not more than 20 minutes before the crash.
Two of the children were taken by Mercy Flight to Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo where they are in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Tatu was taken by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center where she was listed in stable condition Sunday. The other two children were taken by ambulance to Women and Children's Hospital where they are listed in stable condition. Sheriff's officials could not immediately detail the relationship of the children to the driver.
The sheriff's Accident Investigation Unit is investigating the cause of the crash. The Cambria, Wilson and Ransomville fire departments also assisted.