Three children, including one who was ejected and another who was trapped in the windshield, were seriously injured in an accident Monday afternoon in South Carson City.
"It was the most horrible thing I've ever seen," said witness Amanda Hyden, 20.
According to Nevada state Trooper Todd Hartline, a Western Sealing & Striping commercial pickup towing a one-ton tank of hot asphalt oil was attempting to make a left turn from South Carson Street onto Snyder Avenue when it drove into the path of a northbound Dodge Neon driven by Robin Ridley, 40, of Carson City.
"All of the sudden, you see the truck turn, you see the trailer of the truck hit the (median strip) and jump into the air, and then it came down on the car," said Hyden who was southbound behind the truck.
The impact separated the tank from the truck, and driver Roberto Estrada, 30, was able to steer the pickup to the shoulder.
Hyden said she and another car stopped and they ran to try to help. Ridley, who was saved in part by the airbag in the steering wheel, got himself out of the wreckage.
"'What can I do? How are my boys?'" she recalled him saying as he went to each of them.
She said one child lying in the street near a stop sign at the intersection of Snyder and Carson was asking for his father. She said another boy in the back seat seemed dazed. The boy trapped in the window was asking what happened.
Hyden said she retrieved a pillow and put it on the hood of the car for that child to lie his head on. Another passerby brought a blanket. She said an off-duty emergency worker stayed with the boy in the street, while Hyden held the hand of the child in the back and Ridley stayed with his son on the hood.
It appears none of the children were wearing seat belts, said Sgt. Mark Clark.
"It was so shocking to see someone so little and in so much pain," Hyden said. "I don't want to think about it."
As emergency crews spent 20 minutes cutting the steel from around the boy on the hood, dozens of onlookers quietly stood on the roadside watching. Quickly, word spread that the victims were children.
"They're all children?" one woman asked in disbelief, throwing her hand over her mouth.
Ridley and the children were transported by helicopter to Washoe Medical Center. Their medical status as of press time was unknown.
Hartline said truck driver Estrada submitted to a voluntary blood test. There was no indication he was impaired.
Estrada and another employee of Western Sealing and Striping of Reno declined comment. A call to the business was not returned.
Traffic was blocked for three hours at the height of rush hour. Sgt. Clark said both vehicles and the tank were towed as evidence.
Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.