NEW SQUARE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Five young girls were seriously injured Monday afternoon, when a van jumped a curb in a Rockland County community and slammed right into them.
As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, the girls were playing on a front lawn in the village of New Square – an Orthodox Jewish enclave within the town of Ramapo – when the Five-Star Home Medical Supplies delivery van came roaring up and mowed them down. The van then knocked an electrical box off of its base and sent sparks flying.
The five injured girls were taken to a local hospital by ambulance. Three of the girls were taken to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, while two more were taken to Nyack Hospital on Midland Avenue, officials said.
All but two of the girls had been released from the hospitals by late Monday night.
It was a horror in the quiet community, as the van struck moments after a school bus had discharged its passengers.
“It’s such a terrible tragedy,” said New Square resident Moses Spira. “How did it happen?”
The delivery van was hauled away hours later.
Police initially believed a mechanical failure was to blame for the accident, as the driver of the van said he simply lost control.
Damage to the front end of the van tended to support the driver’s story, but the investigation continued late Monday night.
Crowds gathered throughout the evening watching the investigators take their measurements. Nearby, a mailbox was knocked about 25 feet off its stanchion — a testament to the power and speed of the vehicle.
Ramapo police, the town supervisor, and witnesses said they were horrified by what they saw.
“They’re right in their yard on the driveway playing, and the vehicle came down and mowed right over them,” said Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence. “We have no markings of any brakes that were hit or anything at this time. We have our crime and our traffic people working at the scene right now. We are pulling tapes from cameras that are on this street, and we may have actual footage of the accident itself.”
But witnesses said what happened after the impact was even more horrible to watch.
“You know, they tell that your child’s in this ambulance, your child is in this, it’s very, very messy,” said witness Manny Spira. “It’s very, very scary.”
But there was also a miracle of sorts after the accident. One of the injured girls – only 9 years old – had stopped breathing. A paramedic, Jacob Goldumenzer, brought her back from the brink.
Immediately after the accident, police said the driver, a Monsey resident, was calm, apologetic and cooperative at the scene. But police said English was not his first language and he had difficulty communicating.
No charges had been filed, and no tickets had been issued, as of late Monday night.
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