BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Miraculously, 2-year-old Jackson Gilbert and 17-month old Kayda Charache suffered only minor injuries after the SUV they were riding in collided head-on with a pick-up truck.
A third child involved in that crash, 6-year-old Garrett Talbot, remains in guarded condition at Women and Children's Hospital in Buffalo. He is expected to make a full recovery.
"I definitely think the car seat saved the little ones' lives, and they seem to have walked away with just a couple of bruises and they're pretty much fine," said Duane Charache, father of 17-month-old Kayda and brother of 30-year-old Sonya Charache, the driver of the SUV involved in the crash.
Police say Sonya Charache SUV crossed the center line on Indian Falls Road in Pembroke Thursday evening, colliding head-on with a pick-up truck driven by 70-year-old Donald Sage.
Sage has been a firefighter in the area for 50-years, and most of the first responders who had to cut him from the vehicle knew who he was.
"It greatly affects their ability to do their job when it's somebody they know, someone who's been around for 50 years and been active all that time," said Bill Schutt, Deputy Fire Coordinator for Genesee County Emergency Services.
Both drivers were seriously injured in the crash, something that 6-year-old Garrett was aware of when he told first responders not to worry about him, but to help is aunt.
"When they asked him at the scene they said 'what is your name?' He said 'my name is Garrett, but don't you worry about me, please take care of [my aunt] because she needs you more,'" recalled Garrett's mom, Lauren Charache.
Sonya Charache remains in critical condition at ECMC, while Donald Sage underwent two surgeries Friday in a Rochester hospital. His condition remains serious.
As for the parents of the children involved, they say one lesson they've learned is not to ever risk not using safety seats for young children.
"It's not worth it. Take the extra time, because that's what saved our kids. It's absolutely what saved our kids," Lauren said.
The accident remains under investigation by the Genesee County Sheriff's Department.
Police think Sonya Charache may have been distracted briefly by the children in the back, causing her to cross the yellow line, colliding with Sage.