The family of an unlicensed teenage driver who lost control of a car in Rolando, hitting a mother and two children, says the teen is extremely distraught over the accident.
On Thursday afternoon, 18-year-old Shanisha Smith lost control of her vehicle at the intersection of 62nd Street and Acorn Street after police say she reached for a drink that had fallen from her console. Her coffee, cup and all, went under the foot pedals.
She struck several people walking on the sidewalk, including a mother in her 40s and two young children. One of the children, a 6-year-old girl, was hospitalized Friday with a fractured femur.
Fire officials say Smith jumped the curb in the green BMW she was driving, taking out a fire hydrant before slamming into the pedestrians. One of the children became trapped underneath the vehicle following the collision. Good Samaritans rushed to pull the child out from under the car.
Smith stayed at the scene and cooperated with police. No charges were immediately filed.
On Friday, Smith’s uncle Brian Ritchey spoke exclusively with NBC 7. He said his niece was so distraught and saddened over the accident, she experienced chest pains and anxiety attacks, and was admitted into Sharp Hospital and later released.
“She can't sleep this morning. She was having chest pains. She's saddened. She's terribly saddened,” Ritchey told NBC 7.
Smith’s uncle says his niece took a teenager’s chance, driving without a license. Now, she’s suffering the emotional consequences of her mistake.
“She's not the bubbly little girl we know. She’s just sitting there, tearing up. She's more scared than anything,” Ritchey said.
The scene following Thursday’s accident painted a picture of the seriousness of it all, with a child’s stroller and other remnants from the crash left behind at the Rolando intersection. The BMW Smith was driving, which belongs to her mother, was stalled on the curb.
Ritchey says Smith feels remorse for the accident, especially for those who were hurt.
“She feels sorry for them and wants to do something for them. At least buy them a new stroller,” he said.
Still shaken from the accident, Ritchey says Smith is now home with her family.
Ritchie says the teen was cited for driving without a license, a traffic violation. Though the penalty for the citation is minor, the long term impact could be far greater for all of those involved.
“It's going to be hard for her to move on until she finds out what is going on with those kids,” Ritchey said.
The teen’s uncle says Smith didn’t take her driving test seriously, and failed the exam not once but two or three times before the accident.