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Witnesses describe deadly crash involving SUV packed with 11 children

Bystanders rushed several severely injured children straight to the emergency room, possibly saving their lives.
Witnesses describe deadly crash involving SUV packed with 11 children
Posted at 12:10 PM, Sep 06, 2023

"Devastating." That's what witnesses had to say about the scene of a fatal crash involving a vehicle carrying 14 people — 11 of them children.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner in Ohio confirmed 7-year-old Dai'Nya Wray died from injuries suffered when an SUV collided with a utility pole in Cleveland Sunday afternoon.

"When I found out who the little girl was last night … it killed me because I wouldn't recognize her. And when she came out of the car, I was 2 feet from her," said Brooke Weese.

Weese was driving nearby when she saw the collision happen in front of her.

"It was very quick. I don't want to make any assumptions, but it definitely looked like it was straight into the pole to me," Weese explained.

She said when she pulled over and tried to offer help, it was evident the vehicle was packed with people, mostly children, not secured by car seats or seat belts.

"I got a couple of the kids off the street first after they started falling out of the car. They were hysterical," she recalled.

She ran to Maribel Torres' home down the street for help translating when she realized some of the passengers were speaking Spanish.

"It's so devastating to see a situation like this … a little truck — how did they fit all of those people in there?" Torres said.

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The women told Scripps News Cleveland that the scene was chaotic, with children between ages 2 and 12 suffering various degrees of injuries. The child with the worst injuries, who they believe was Dai'Nya, was unconscious when they arrived.

"The little girl… one of the people opened the side door, and she just kind of fell out onto the cement. I thought she already wasn't alive anymore," Weese said.

One bystander took some of the most severely injured children to the hospital while others waited at the scene for EMS.

"He took all five people to the emergency room. If it wasn't for him, they probably would have all died," Torres said.

Torres and Weese said it took nearly 30 minutes for ambulances to arrive. When they did, EMS transported six other children and two adults to the hospital in serious condition.

The women said they also saw the driver of the vehicle gather his belongings and leave the scene shortly after the crash.

"He should never have done what he's done and left the scene like it was nothing," Torres said. "It's not fair, and that little girl's life is gone."

Cleveland Police have not released additional information about the driver or any possible charges. It's also unclear why the vehicle was carrying so many passengers.

"What could possibly be so important you need to put four or five kids in the trunk to get there? I can't imagine why," Weese said.

This story was originally published by Catherine Ross at Scripps News Cleveland.

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