A 2-year-old child was killed and another child was injured in a chain-reaction crash on the Beltway in Temple Hills, Maryland, Friday evening, authorities say.
Police say the little girl was riding in the car with her family when, amid heavy rain and thunderstorms, their vehicle was struck from behind.
The 2-year-old, Leelete Andargie, was riding in a forward-facing child safety seat in the Camry, which was driven by her 46-year-old father, Assegid A. Damena, of Oxon Hill, police say. Her mother, Sisaynesh B. Abetew, 33, was in the front seat and her older sister, Meklit Andargie, was in a booster seat in the rear, behind the passenger seat.
A preliminary investigation shows that Nicole L. Williams, 37, of Waldorf, failed to slow down her Chevrolet Malibu for traffic stopped on northbound I-495, police say. Williams' car slammed into the back of the family's Camry.
The Camry, in turn, struck the back of a Cadillac sedan driven by 53-year-old Ronald J. Berry of Temple Hills.
"The car hit the car behind me and that car hit me. It pushed me forward. When I got out, that’s when I saw the mother bring the baby out and lay it on the ground," Berry, the driver of the black Cadillac, told News4.
Berry said the mother was frantic and worried.
"She was kind of distraught. I tried to keep her from going into traffic. I wanted make sure she was ok because she was upset," Berry said.
Maryland State Troopers responded to the scene about 5:30 p.m. and found multiple people injured. Williams and Berry refused treatment, police say.
Leelete was taken to Children's Hospital Trauma Center in D.C. in critical condition, state police said. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Meklit was also taken to the hospital and treated for her injuries, police say.
State police said on Friday that charges were pending. The investigation is ongoing, Maryland State Police say.
Police said earlier that heavy rain hampered the crash investigation.