Toddler ejected from car after crash in Florence

Source: Brian Willis (FOX19 News Nation)
Source: Brian Willis (FOX19 News Nation)
Source: Brian Willis (FOX19 News Nation)
Source: Brian Willis (FOX19 News Nation)
Source: Brian Willis (FOX19 News Nation)
Source: Brian Willis (FOX19 News Nation)

FLORENCE, KY (FOX19) - A toddler was ejected from a minivan after a crash in Florence.

The accident happened around 9:33 a.m. near the corner of U.S. 42 and Ockerman Road.

Police say a tan Mercury driven by Nancy Ezell, of Florence, was traveling westbound on U.S. 42 as a green Plymouth minivan driven by Griselda Barajas, also of Florence.

A toddler, Santiago Gonzales, who is just shy of two years old, was seatbelted in a booster seat in the left rear section of the van. The crash caused the Plymouth to spin to the right, ejecting Gonzales from a left side window.

Witnesses at the scene stated it appeared that the Mercury may have ran the red light just prior to the crash.

Technicians at Michael's Tire Plus in Florence jumped into action on Tuesday morning, as soon as they heard the crash. Chad McDine and his co-workers showed FOX19 their video and pictures of the aftermath of the crash.

"I walked out, and my truck was parked in the back," said McDine. "I heard squealing tires. I looked up front and seen two of my technicians running in and out of this space here to come onto the scene."

The collision happened steps away from the front of the Tires Plus building. Seconds later, McDine and several others pulled the toddler, 22-month old Santiago Gonzales, to safety.

"There was definitely blood," said McDine. "I say 50-percent of his face was covered, at least. Coming down his chest. Looks like there might have been a gash on his forehead. We saw a bunch of little tiny things, too. I guess that was glass, but all I saw was the blood."

McDine said it's not the first crash he's seen at that intersection.

"I've never seen {a victim} that young," said McDine. "Not a two-year-old so that was quite crazy. And {my co-worker Ernie} was just sitting there talking to him. Telling him it's going to be fine. {Gonzales} wasn't really paying attention or crying or nothing. Just kind of in his own daze."

Florence police said Gonzales is lucky to be alive.

Captain Linny Cloyd said the child was restrained in a booster seat, but he should have been in a rear-facing carseat.

"I believe at this point, the child was just too small to be adequately and safely restrained in that device," said Capt. Cloyd. "And because of the collision, he was thrown out of the window."

And thrown into a situation, police say, Gonzales didn't need to be in, in the first place.

"We work crashes all the time where people do everything exactly like they should-- right by the letter of the law-- and bad things still happen," said Capt. Cloyd. "This is one that luckily is does not appear the young man will suffer any long term effects but look at the possibilities of what if and it could have been a lot worse and it really didn't need to be."

Gonzales was transported by Air Care to Children's hospital and was conscious at the scene prior to transportation. He suffered fairly deep cuts to his head and face but is otherwise ok. He is still in the hospital with no time period for his release.

Ezell was transported by squad to St. Elizabeth hospital Florence also with undetermined injuries. Two other adults in the Plymouth were not injured.

The crash is still under investigation at this time. No one has been charged in the case, but that could soon change for both drivers-- including the babysitter who could be charged for having an improper restraint for child that small.

If anyone has information please contact the Florence Police Department at 859-647-5420.

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