Off-duty officer saves 2-year-old girl after runaway van crashes in Minnesota

Off-duty officer saves 2-year-old girl after runaway van crashes in Minnesota
The incident ended with only property damage and minor injury, according to Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken. (Source: Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken/Facebook)

DULUTH, Minn. (Gray News) - A police officer in Minnesota sprang into action on his way to work to rescue a toddler when her mother’s van rolled down a hill.

Megan Newman, 27, parked her van near her house Thursday evening after a visit to the aquarium with her twin 2-year-old girls, Bella and Elena, the Minnesota Star Tribune reports.

Mother Megan Newman, 27, says she now hopes to find a “reliable car” that is safe for her and her twin 2-year-old daughters, Bella and Elena.
Mother Megan Newman, 27, says she now hopes to find a “reliable car” that is safe for her and her twin 2-year-old daughters, Bella and Elena. (Source: GoFundMe)

The mother wrote in a GoFundMe post that she always uses the emergency brake since she lives on a steep hill.

But her car key got stuck in the ignition, so she decided to take the toddlers out. She managed to get Elena out, but Bella, even though she was unbuckled, refused to leave the back seat.

Newman says she saw her neighbors outside and thought she should ask them for help, but suddenly, the van – with Bella still inside – began moving.

“When my neighbor yelled, ‘Your car is rolling down the hill,’ I felt my heart just stop. It didn’t feel real,” Newman wrote.

The van rolled into busy traffic, hit another car and lodged, “partially suspended,” into trees on a steep hillside, according to a Facebook post by Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken.

Officer Todd Simmons, who was on his way to work, saw the crash and got Bella out of the car safely.

Bella’s mother wrote on GoFundMe her daughter was “miraculously OK.” She said emergency crews were “shocked to see how good of shape she was in as bad [as] the accident was, especially for not being buckled in.”

“I just want to thank Officer Simmons who witnessed it all firsthand and came to my daughter’s rescue right away,” said Newman to the Star Tribune. “She came out with barely a scratch on her. It’s truly a miracle.”

Thursday about 5:30 PM, police closed Mesaba Avenue to investigate a traffic crash. A van with two toddlers inside was...

Posted by Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken on Saturday, July 13, 2019

The incident ended with only property damage and minor injury, according to Tusken.

“Thank you, Officer Simmons, for your timing, quick actions and service to help a very scared mom, child and crash victim,” Tusken wrote.

Newman wrote on GoFundMe that she now hopes to find a “reliable car” that is safe for the family.

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