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Three dead, including infant, in Thruway accident

Photo from NITTEC Camera

Two adults and a one-month-old boy were killed Thursday morning when a minivan drifted off the road and crashed into a Thruway maintenance vehicle around 7:30 a.m. on I-90, south of Buffalo. State Police say ten passengers from the City of Buffalo were riding eastbound in the van, returning from an overnight trip to Florida.  The passengers included three adults and seven children, ranging from one month to 13 years old, in what is likely a blended family. 

The van crashed into a Thruway maintenance vehicle on the road's center median in the Town of Brant, between the Angola and Silver Creek exits. 

"Preliminary, right now, I'd say that the scene is consistent with drowsy driving, driver falling asleep. There's also the possibility the driver suffered a medical condition. We won't know that until an autopsy is completed and we won't know about impairment until toxicology...but the scene does not have any indications of that at this time," State Police Captain Douglas Montijo said in a news briefing late Thurday morning.

The six other children in the van were airlifted to Women and Children's Hospital. Four are listed in critical condition as of late Thursday afternoon -- Jaiden Gonzalez, 4, Adrianna Arroyo, 6, Yamaris Rodriguez, 8, and Alexandra Rodriguez, 13. Jaicob Gonzalez, 2, and Alexis Rodriguez Jr., 10, are listed as stable.

Police interviewed 30-year-old Christieann Gonzalez before she died at Lakeshore Hospital.  The male driver was identified as Luis Arroyo, 27. He and his infant son Luis Arroyo Jr. died at the scene. The second adult female, 24-year-old Jessica Gonzalez, is in serious condition at ECMC.

Police say it's unclear whether the infant was properly restrained and the van appears to have been exceeding its capacity. 

"If anybody takes anything away from this, I want to stress the importance of using properly restrained child seats," Montijo said. "We have more children than we have car seat devices."

A Thruway worker suffered a wrist injury in the crash. There were no witnesses to the crash, though several people stopped to help afterward. The eastbound lanes between Exits 58 and 57A were closed for several hours.

Montijo says there was good weather and light traffic at the time and based on the time of day, the sun's glare would not have been a factor in the accident.

Unytscalling on the Western New York community to donate blood following the fatal accident. Unyts has been notified of an increasing need for blood for the surviving victims of the tragedy.

"Right now we are in need of all blood donors, specifically O-negative blood donors, to help with the need of our hospitals at this time following the accident this morning," said Amanda Farrell, director of mobile operations at Unyts.

"Whenever tragedies or traumas or accidents such as this happen, the regular day-to-day need for blood is exacerbated that much more."

If you would like to donate blood to help, you can call 512-7940 or stop by a Unyts donation center.

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