Shannon Anderson and her aunt had just stepped out of the aunt’s Moselle Street home Sunday night with Shannon’s 7-month-old daughter tucked into her stroller.
The women started walking and stepped off the curb into the street. The sound of screeching tires and two loud bangs filled the air. Neighbors rushed out of their homes.
The mother and aunt lay in the street. About 40 feet from where the car hit them was the crumpled, overturned stroller.
“Then the mom jumped up, like she got this adrenalin flowing, and ran to the stroller,” Charlene Ivey, a neighbor, said. “She flipped the stroller upright and took her baby from it and was holding the baby in her arms. She kept saying, ‘Oh my God. Oh my baby. Call the police.’”
The baby was lifeless. The 23-year-old mother cried out over and over for someone to help, Ivey recounted.
Anderson’s older sister Vascier Thomas happened to be driving by in a sports utility vehicle and immediately pulled over. So did an off-duty Buffalo firefighter on a motorcycle.
“The sister was screaming, ‘Who did this to you?’ The firefighter was telling the mother he could give first aid, but the mother wanted to get the baby to the hospital right away,” said Derrick Williams, who like Ivey had rushed outside when he heard the crash.
With the baby in her arms, Anderson jumped into the SUV and two other passengers lifted the aunt whose legs were broken into the vehicle. They then raced to Erie County Medical Center.
But nothing could be done for Nyree. Doctors pronounced her dead. The mother declined treatment and the 28-year-old aunt, Brittany, whose full name was not released, was admitted and listed in stable condition Monday, police said.
“We believe the baby died from blunt force trauma,” said Lt. Thomas Leatherbarrow, commander of the Buffalo Police Department’s Accident Investigation Unit.
The cause of the accident, he said, has not yet been determined, but investigators say the two women had stepped from the curb with the stroller into the roadway when they were hit by a car at about 9:40 p.m. on the 300 block of Moselle by the intersection of Frankfort Avenue.
“The car was southbound on Moselle coming from East Ferry Street,” Leatherbarrow said. “The driver was questioned and released Sunday night. No charges have been filed. We have to do forensic testing to determine if speed was a factor.”
Police did not release the identity of the 44-year-old Buffalo driver.
The car knocked down a small tree before coming to a stop just a few feet away from the front porch of Ivey’s home at 305 Moselle. But the vehicle’s bumper detached during the crash and landed several feet farther away by the porch steps.
“The driver fell out of the car onto the ground and I could see his airbag had gone off. He started walking back and forth saying, ‘I’m not driving anymore.’ I asked him, ‘Are you drunk or something?’ He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘What is wrong with you?’ How could you run over a stroller?’ ” Ivey said Monday morning, recalling the moments after the accident from her porch.
“Instead of saying ‘I’m not driving anymore,’ he should have been asking, ‘Is the baby OK?’ I guess he was dazed from the airbag hitting him,” Ivey speculated, adding that he did not answer her question about hitting the stroller.
Relatives and loved ones of the infant and women arrived at the crash scene Monday looking for answers.
Among them was Bardarren Anderson, who is Shannon Anderson’s father and Nyree’s grandfather.
He stood at Ivey’s front steps holding a small white hair band with a bow on it that neighbors had given him.
“They told me that Nyree was wearing it and they found it on the ground,” the distraught grandfather said. “I never really got to know my granddaughter. Just last week for the first time we went out shopping at the Galleria Mall. I was pushing her in her stroller and I bought her and my daughter a few outfits. Nyree was Shannon’s first child and she was Shannon’s world.”
He said his daughter’s home was about a 20-minute walk from where the crash happened in the 300 block of Moselle.
Also searching for answers was Natasha Greene, Shannon Anderson’s fiance, who stood over an orange spray-painted circle that accident investigators had marked on the section of pavement where the stroller had come to a stop.
“Nyree’s stroller went all this way from where the car hit it,” Greene said in disbelief, looking north on Moselle to where another orange spray painted section of pavement marked the point of impact. “I don’t understand what happened. Shannon called me at 10 o’clock last night saying our baby was hit, get to the hospital.”
Amid tears, Greene described Nyree: “All she did was smile. She loved people. That’s my daughter.”
Funeral arrangements for Nyree are being handled by the Lombardo Funeral Home on the 100 block of Linwood Avenue.