3 killed, 6 injured in crash on family trip to Niagara Falls

May 28, 2019

Three relatives were killed and six others were injured in a crash while heading to Niagara Falls on a holiday weekend trip, when a suspected drunken driver's pickup truck hit their SUV, authorities said.

Two women were ejected and pronounced dead at the scene, according to Wyoming County Sheriff Gregory Rudolph said. They were identifed as Ondina Castro De La Cruz, 47, and Mayelin Brito-Castro, 32.

One of the three four-year-old children was taken by Bennington Ambulance to the Wyoming County Community Hospital for head injuries and died about an hour later.

"Anytime a child is involved — and in this case, we had five — it pulls at you," he told The Daily News of Batavia. "It's a tragedy."

Rudolph said two other adults were injured. Reyes Rodriguez, 55, was taken by Warsaw Ambulance to WCCH and was later released. Maria Brito-Castro, 26, was taken by Monroe Ambulance to Erie County Medical Center and is expected to be released.

The four other children are as follows:

  • A 14-year old was taken by Attica Ambulance to WCCH and later transferred to Oishei Children’s Hospital and is still receiving care there.
  • A 10-year-old was taken by Varysburg Ambulance to Oishei Children’s Hospital and is still receiving care there.
  • A 4-year-old was taken by North Java Ambulance to Oishei Children’s Hospital and is still receiving care there.
  • Another 4-year-old was taken by Mercy EMS to Oishei Children’s Hospital and is still receiving care there.  

The Sheriff's Office believes the entire family is from the Perth Amboy, NJ area. They are still obtaining details of how each are related and how they were all positioned in the vehicle.

The investigation is continuing and will likely take days or weeks. What is clear is not everyone was wearing a seat belt and no child seats or booster seats were in the vehicle, Rudolph said.

Investigators believe the Dodge Ram 2500 pickup ran a stop sign and hit the Kia Sedona SUV around 6:30 a.m. Sunday at Route 20A at Maxon Road in Sheldon, said Rudolph. Sheldon is a small town about 30 miles southeast of Buffalo. The 7-passenger SUV was carrying nine members of the family, the sheriff said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for the family.

The pickup driver, Richard Sawicki, 20, was transported by the Strykersville Ambulance to ECMC and later released. He has been arrested on aggravated vehicular homicide, DWI and reckless driving charges. He was arraigned and held on $200,000 bond and his driver's license was suspended.

He is due back in court June 10 and the sheriff said additional charges are expected. Messages were left at his lawyer's office and possible phone numbers for his Lackawanna home.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.