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New details on suspected DWI crash that killed three people in Wyoming County

The victims were from a New Jersey, multi-generational family on a trip to Niagara Falls
Posted at 6:15 PM, May 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-31 18:15:07-04

VARYSBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Wyoming County Sheriff's Office, along with the Wyoming County district attorney and first responders, held a joint press conference at the Varysburg Volunteer Fire Department to update the public on the latest findings concerning a fatal, suspected DWI crash on Sunday May 26th.

It happened in the Town of Sheldon when a pickup truck ran a stop sign and hit a minivan carrying 9 people on a trip to Niagara Falls.

The accident happened at 6:32 a.m. at the intersection of Route 20A and Maxon Road.

"We believe six, possibly seven were ejected from the car in the crash," said Wyoming County Sheriff Gregory Rudolph.

Three people from the minivan were killed (two adult women at the scene and a girl, age 4, shortly afterwards), five treated for injuries at local hospitals, and a 4-year-old girl is still fighting for her life in critical condition at Oishie Children's Hospital in Buffalo.

Richard Sawicki, 20, of Lackawanna remains in the Wyoming County Jail on charges of Reckless Driving, Driving While Intoxicated, and Aggravated Vehicular Homicide - with more charges possible after the case if presented to a Grand Jury.

Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O'Geen said during the press conference that police have evidence that Sawicki spent the night drinking at a bon-fire type party until about two hours before the accident.

Investigators have also found that Sawicki used an out-of-state fake ID to buy alcohol at a convenience store in Attica for the night-long party.

The family that was struck comprised three generations of relatives with a husband from Perth Amboy, N.J. losing his wife, daugher and granddaughter.

A 14-year-old boy lost his little sister, his mother and a grandmother.

The Ronald McDonald House is Buffalo is helping the family as another 4-year-old girl remains in critical condition at Oishie Children's Hospital.

The Wyoming County District Attorney's Office is also helping the family coordinate funeral plans in New Jersey.

While the investigation found the minvan was overloaded with people, lacked car seats and the proper use of seat belts, District Attorney Donald O'Geen said the victim blaming must stop.

"That is not what caused the death of these victims. There is only one cause of that - and that is the alleged actions of Mr. Sawicki," said O'Geen.

Richard Sawicki failed a field sobriety test but officials are still waiting for final results from toxicology tests.

Friends of the New Jersey family have started a GoFundMe account to help the family pay for funeral expenses. You can view the GoFundMe page here.


Sheriff Gregory Rudolph reports: On May 26, 2019 at 6:32 a.m., the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office 911 Center received calls of a crash with multiple ejections and injuries on Route 20A at Maxon Road in the Town of Sheldon. The initial investigation by Deputies has revealed a seven passenger Kia Sedona with a family of nine from New Jersey were westbound on Route 20A when a southbound Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck on Maxon Road went through the intersection without stopping at the stop sign and struck the Kia Sedona in a “T-Bone” type collision. The Kia Sedona had one adult male, three adult females and five children (ages: 14, 10, 4, 4, 4). Two adult women were ejected and pronounced dead at the scene by Wyoming County Coroner Jennifer Prutsman-Pfeiffer. They have been identified as Ondina Castro De La Cruz- age 47 and Mayelin Brito-Castro- age 32. Kyara Hernandez-Brito, age 4, was taken by Bennington Ambulance to the Wyoming County Community Hospital (WCCH) for head injuries and died at 8: 29 a.m.

Additionally from the Sedona:

1. The adult male, Reyes Rodriguez- age 55, was taken by Warsaw Ambulance to WCCH and was later released.

2. An adult female, Maria Brito-Castro- age 26, was taken by Monroe Ambulance to ECMC for a lacerated liver, broken ribs and broken arm and has been discharged.

3. Mayelin’s son, age 14, was taken by Attica Ambulance to WCCH for lacerations and bruising and later transferred to Oishie Children’s Hospital and has been discharged.

4. Maria’s daughter, age 10, was taken by Varysburg Ambulance to Oishie Children’s Hospital for a facial fractures, lacerations and a broken leg and has been discharged.

5. Maria’s daughter, age 4, was taken by North Java Ambulance to Oishie Children’s Hospital for a head injury and is still in critical condition and in intensive care.

6. Maria’s daughter, age 4, was taken by Mercy EMS to Oishie Children’s Hospital for a broken arm, broken clavicle and lacerations and has been discharged.

We are releasing the injury and conditions with permission of the family, but they have requested us to not release the names of the other children. The family is still in the Buffalo area due to the child in critical condition. They all reside together in the Perth Amboy, NJ area. It is our understanding; they were on their way to Niagara Falls, Canada. They were going to spend the night and then drive back to New Jersey. The family dynamic is as follows: Reyes Rodriguez and Ondina Castro De La Cruz were married and parents to Mayelin Brito-Castro and Maria Brito-Castro. Mayelin Brito-Castro had two children: the involved 14 year old son and Kyara Hernandez-Brito. Maria Brito-Castro is mother to the other three children in the crash, two of which are twins. Not to minimize anyone’s tragic loss in this family, but to put it into perspective, the 14 year old boy lost his little sister, mother and grandmother in this crash and Reyes lost his wife, daughter and granddaughter.

The Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office is still obtaining statements, crash data and details to determine seating positions, but it is clear not everyone was wearing a seat belt and car seats were not found. We believe six, possibly seven were ejected from the car in the crash.

The driver of the Dodge truck was identified as Richard SAWICKI- age 20 of Lackawanna, NY. He was transported by the Strykersville Ambulance to ECMC and discharged. He was arrested by the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office for Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, Driving While Intoxicated and Reckless Driving.

SAWICKI was arraigned in front of Justice Fusani of the Town of Warsaw Court with District Attorney Donald O’Geen present and Michael Stivers of the Public Defender’s Office representing SAWICKI. SAWICKI was remanded to the Wyoming County Jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond and his driver’s license was suspended. He is to return to Court on June 10, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.

Mr. SAWICKI has not posted bail or bond and is in Jail. Our investigation has lead us to believe SAWICKI was coming from a local bon fire type party from the night before and was on his way to a local convenient store in Sheldon and then home. The homeowners and persons at the party have greatly cooperated and contributed to this investigation. We have obtained evidence SAWICKI purchased his alcohol with an out of state fake ID at a convenient store in Attica the night before the accident. There is no indication of anyone other than SAWICKI committing crimes that lead to this tragedy whether the day of the crash or before. Additionally, most of you have reported SAWICKI’s dad is a police officer with the Lackawanna Police Department. Our investigators had contact with him at ECMC as he was there, off duty, as a Dad with his son and he was present at the public arraignment. He was cooperative and professional with our personnel and at no time interfered with any aspect of this investigation. Our investigation is continuing and will likely take days or weeks. Blood evidence from SAWICKI was obtained and we are awaiting toxicology results. Additional charges against SAWICKI are expected and will likely come after District Attorney Donald O’Geen’s Grand Jury proceedings.

I can tell you this incident has struck a chord in our entire Office and particularly to those who took the call, responded to the scene and have subsequently investigated these horrible events. I would like to offer our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to Reyes, Maria and the children as we all wish you recovery in every way to the unimaginable anguish you have suffered.

***Sheriff Gregory J. Rudolph***

Emergency Services Director William G. Streicher reports, “The Varysburg Fire Department co-managed the scene with the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office and Wyoming County Emergency Services Office. As mentioned the following ambulances responded: Varysburg, Bennington, Warsaw, Attica, North Java, Monroe Ambulance and Mercy EMS. Others assisting agencies were: Sheldon Fire Department, the New York State Police, New York State Park Police, Sheriff’s Office Crash Management Team and Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O’Geen.

This amounted to a total of 12 different Fire & EMS agencies. Approximately 75 personnel, with the majority being our local volunteers. The incident lasted about six hours. A first responder debriefing was held here on Tuesday evening, which 54 attended and included: EMS, Fire, Dispatchers, Hospital personnel and law enforcement. Additional services for our first responders are available and I am monitoring the need.”
***Director William G. Streicher***