Sarah Sutton, a mother in Weddington, North Carolina, is accustomed to chauffeuring her four kids around in their white Chevy Suburban. But as she learned on May 5, life can change in a flash.
The family was on their way home around 5 p.m. when a car unexpectedly veered in front of them from an oncoming lane.
Another car ran a red light at 45 MPH, colliding head-on with Sutton’s automobile.
“It was rush hour traffic in Charlotte and somebody was coming from the opposite direction and he turned left right out in front of us, in front of all the cars,” Sutton said to PEOPLE.
“I was the first car and he hit me head-on. It was like hitting a brick wall. I just started screaming, ‘My babies! My babies!'”
All of the airbags in Sutton’s car immediately deployed. She was trapped in the front seat, helpless in assisting her kids in the back.
Fortunately, her 6-year-old daughter Alayna was ready to step in and help free her siblings from their carseats.
Alayna, 6, put aside her own pain and unbuckled her younger siblings’ car seats.
Sutton watched from the rear-view mirror as her daughter, having sustained injuries of her own, put aside her own fear and pain to help her brothers and sister. Her bravery was the silver lining in an otherwise disastrous situation.
“She started unbuckling her siblings. She was able to do her car seat and Ryder’s [age 3]. She went to unbuckle Aynsley , she was able to just climb over [the seat] and unbuckle her,” Sarah said.
“All four kids were screaming, they were scared. She’s my little mama, she really is. She just takes care of all of her siblings.”
Moments after the crash, a number of concerned onlookers rushed to the scene of the wreck to assist the mother and her children. The only sibling Alayna couldn’t reach was her little brother, Liam, who was pulled out by a woman at the wreckage.
Sutton was in the worst shape and was initially listed in critical condition.
“Everyone at the ER was in shock that we were alive! Thank God for this vehicle that kept the entire cab [intact].” Sutton said to Love What Matters.
The grateful mother said her children’s car seats likely saved their lives.
“Thank God I am a psycho mom who did not listen to her kid and let them ride in a booster! 5 point harness car seats saved my kids lives,” Sutton said.
While the family managed to escape without any major injuries, they have struggled with a number of side effects as a result of the crash.
“We are now dealing with body image issues, soreness, nightmares, depression, sensitivity to loud noises, just not feeling like ourselves,” Sutton said.
But the North Carolina family realizes how lucky they are to be alive, and they are grateful for the second chance they’ve been given.
“My children beat the odds on Wednesday and we are very very lucky they are alive,” Sutton said.