Maplewood woman, children injured in one-car crash

A Maplewood woman and her two children are lucky to be alive after their car hit a concrete barrier on Interstate 94 and rolled several times, ejecting the 9-year-old child and 20-month-old toddler from the vehicle.

Neither child was restrained in a seatbelt or child seat, according to Wisconsin State Patrol Lt. Jeff Lorentz.

The crash happened around 6:30 a.m. Monday on I-94 near Eau Claire, Wis. According to Lorentz, 27-year-old Tenisha Renee Wade was driving with her children from Chicago to Maplewood when her car struck the concrete barrier.

"We don't know the cause of the crash, but it was only the single car," Lorentz said. "She remained in the car and was pinned in the car. The two children, who were not in any safety belts or booster seats or child seats, were ejected from the vehicle."

Wade was wearing her safety belt at the time of the crash, according to Lorentz. Rescuers had to cut the roof off the car to get Wade out, and the children were found about 50 to 75 feet from the car, Lorentz said. The infant was crying and the 9-year-old was speaking with rescuers, both of which were positive signs for medical personnel.

A helicopter transported Wade and the 9-year-old to Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, while the infant was taken by air to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

According to Lorentz, all three people involved received serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.

"It's just a miracle that those children survived," Lorentz said.

While speed does not appear to have been a factor in the crash, some witnesses remembered seeing Wade pass them on the interstate. However, Lorentz said investigators have reasons to believe Wade was traveling at appropriate highway speeds.

A potential factor in the crash is fatigue, Lorentz added. Since the trio was traveling from Chicago to Maplewood, they likely began the trip around 2 a.m. Wade could have been tired or distracted when she hit the concrete barrier.

According to Lorentz, family members said the children were not restrained by child seats or safety belts because Wade likely allowed them to sleep unrestrained in the car. A child seat and booster seat were found inside the vehicle, although neither was being used at the time of the crash.

Wisconsin laws require 9-year-old children to be restrained in safety belts and 20-month-old toddlers to be in child seats.

Amanda Lillie can be reached at alillie@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7814.

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