EAST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A family of six, including four children, were hurt when their vehicle careened down an embankment onto an interstate in New Jersey on Thursday.
As CBS 2′s Tony Aiello reported, bystanders watched in horror as the family’s SUV plunged off a highway overpass around 7:30 a.m. in East Orange.
Police said the Irvington family’s SUV was traveling eastbound along Freeway Drive when it collided with a tractor-trailer that was making a left turn at South Clinton Avenue.
The impact caused the SUV to be thrown nearly 18 feet over a wall and through a retaining fence before crashing to a stop onto I-280 during the heart of rush hour, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said.
“The SUV went up in the air, hung onto the gate for a few moments then it fell down,” witness Goswin Tyner said. ”It looked like a movie to me. It looked like it was something you see on the everyday TV in slow motion.”
Chopper 2 HD was over the scene as first responders cut open the crushed Honda Pilot and removed the badly injured driver.
“Once it fell, that’s when you know that it’s for real,” Tyner told Aiello. ”God was just with them. It looks like he knew something was gonna happen and he was with them that day.”
Investigators said the incident could have been even worse for the family.
“There is a tree there that appears to have broken the fall of the Honda Pilot. So the reconstruction, which is being done by East Orange Police Department Traffic Division and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, will get to the bottom of the exact mechanics,” East Orange Police Acting Chief Thomas Koundry said.
The 46-year-old driver was listed in critical condition at University Hospital. His 27-year-old wife and their four children, ages 7, 5, 3 and 1 are also hospitalized with less serious injuries, Aiello reported.
“God is good. God probably sent an angel and got them safe,” witness Paulette Martineau said. “I’ve been living here for years and I’ve never seen anything like this before, never.”
The 39-year-old truck driver from Pennsylvania did not request medical treatment.
No charges have been filed but are still possible based on the outcome of the investigation, police said.
The investigation is ongoing.