Butler County crash survivor: 'Mommy fell asleep'
A bleeding Stephanie Pounds, 11, climbed out of the mangled van where her mother, her mother's boyfriend and the couple's 3-year-old son lay dead and their 1-year-old daughter seriously injured.
“She was bleeding and screaming that all she wanted to do was talk to her grandmother,” said Stephanie's uncle, David McLaughlin of Moon. “A man who was outside to get his mail handed her a phone, and he went inside to call 911,”
The single-vehicle crash on Centreville Pike in Brady, Butler County, on Wednesday killed Kimberly A. McLaughlin, 31, and her boyfriend, Terry W. Cramer Jr., 42, both of Frazier Street in McKees Rocks, and the couple's 3-year-old son, Terry Cramer III.
Emily McLaughlin, the couple's baby daughter, has head injuries and is in a medically induced coma at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, David McLaughlin said.
Stephanie injured her arm and received stitches, he said.
Stephanie reached her grandmother, Margie McLaughlin, by cellphone, he said.
Her grandfather, George McLaughlin of Moon, told WPXI-TV that the child said: “Mommy fell asleep, we're bleeding. We're hurt, and the cops are here. You ... come and pick us up.”
Police are trying to determine whether Kimberly McLaughlin suffered a medical emergency that caused her to lose consciousness.
“We are not ruling that out and are waiting for autopsy results. We were told that she had a congenital heart condition of some sort,” said Lt. Eric Hermick of the state police in Butler County.
The accident was a tragic end to what had been a happy day. The couple drove McLaughlin's 7-year-old daughter, Ashley McLaughlin, to a summer camp near Erie.
“It was Ashley's first time away from home,” David McLaughlin said.
On the return trip, the couple were to drop Stephanie, McLaughlin's oldest daughter, at a summer camp in Mars, David McLaughlin said.
The vehicle was traveling southbound along Centreville Pike, a road leading from Route 8 to Slippery Rock, when at 6:12 p.m. it swerved into the northbound lane, off the road and hit a tree stump.
“Hitting the stump caused the van to catapult, and the van's roof got slammed into a tree,” David McLaughlin said.
He rushed to the scene and saw the van covered in a black tarp.
“This is the sort of thing you hear about on the news and think will never happen to you. We are all pretty much in shock,” he said.
George McLaughlin, a maintenance worker for the Moon Area School District, and his wife, Margie, plan to care for the surviving children, David McLaughlin said.
Kimberly McLaughlin was a 2001 graduate of Moon Area High School. Cramer was the father of her two youngest children. Stephanie Pounds and Ashley McLaughlin have different fathers.
“She worked really hard to be a good mother,” David McLaughlin said of his sister.
Kate Shoop of Crescent attended high school with Kimberly McLaughlin.
“She was funny and was street smart. She loved and adored her kids,” Shoop said.
The two, along with other friends, went roller skating almost every weekend when they were children, Shoop said.
“I knew Kim since the first or second grade. Her personality stayed the same. We are all in shock. I was just looking at pictures of her at my birthday party in the second grade,” she said.
People who live near the couple said they had moved into their Frazier Street home late last year, and they did not know them well.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or firstname.lastname@example.org.