3 Members of New Jersey Family Killed in Alleged Drunk Driver Crash in New York, Say Police

May 27, 2019 Updated: May 27, 2019

Three members of a New Jersey family driving through upstate New York during Memorial Day weekend were killed in an accident after their SUV was hit by an allegedly drunk driver, said officials.

The SUV was carrying nine people before a car slammed into it in an intersection in Sheldon, New York, reported NJ.com on May 27.

Wyoming County Sheriff Greg Rudolph said that the driver of a pickup truck traveling south on Maxon Road blew through a stop sign at around 6:30 a.m., hitting the family’s SUV, the report said.

Two women in the vehicle were ejected. They were pronounced dead at the scene by the Wyoming County Coroner, said officials.

A 4-year-old child suffered head injuries in the crash and died about an hour later, authorities said.

“Anytime a child is involved—and in this case, we had five—it pulls at you,” NBC New York quoted Rudolph as saying. “It’s a tragedy.”

Six others involved in the crash were hurt, including a 14-year-old, a 10-year-old, and two other 4-year-old passengers, NJ.com reported.

The family was going to Niagara Falls, located on the New York-Canada border, for the Memorial Day holiday.

Richard Sawicki, 20, of Lackawanna, was identified as the driver of the truck, and he was taken to the hospital, said police. After he was discharged, he was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, driving while intoxicated, and reckless driving, officials said.

He is currently in the Wyoming County Jail on $200,000 bond, officials told NJ.com. His license was also suspended.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Sawicki is slated to make a court appearance on June 10, NBC reported. It’s not clear if he has retained a lawyer.

Authorities have not identified the crash victims.

Crash Deaths in the United States

Tens of thousands of people are killed and millions injured each year from motor vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says these deaths cost more than $380 million in direct medical costs.

The major risk factors for crash deaths in the US are: not using seat belts, car seats, and booster seats (factors in over 9,500 crash deaths); drunk driving (a factor in more than 10,000 crash deaths); and speeding (contributing to more than 9,500 crash deaths).

According to 2017 data from the CDC, the 10 leading causes of death in the United States were: heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide.

A stock photo of (The Canadian Press/Lars Hagberg)

These further break down as follows: the most common are unintentional poisoning deaths (58,335), followed by motor vehicle traffic deaths (40,327), and unintentional fall deaths in third place (34,673).

The total number of emergency department visits for unintentional injuries in the United States in 2017 was 30.8 million, according to the CDC.

The 10 leading causes accounted for 74 percent of all deaths in the United States in 2017.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

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