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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — New details have emerged stemming from a fatal accident on I-279 nearly a year ago that claimed the life of a small child. Police say if the child had been properly restrained, in a car seat, she would have likely survived.
The new information is contained in just-released criminal complaints. The accident occurred on the Parkway North in Ross Township in May of last year.
Taylor Jefferson, 25, of Penn Hills, was behind the wheel of a Toyota, driving north. His brother, 23-year-old Tyrek Jefferson of Pittsburgh, was a passenger in the front seat.
Taylor’s 2-year-old niece, Saryiah, who is Tyrek’s daughter, was in the back seat of the car.
State Police say Taylor was backing up in the left-hand lane, when he was struck by an oncoming car. Investigators determined he was driving in reverse at 16 miles an hour. He may have put his car in reverse, because he was trying to get to an exit he had just passed.
Court papers say a Ross Township Police officer, who was first on the scene, found the child “wedged between the front and rear seats of the Toyota.”
No child safety seat was inside the car, and Saryiah did not have on a seat belt.
The police officer drove the ambulance to the hospital, so paramedics could tend to the injured child. Tyrek rode in the ambulance with his daughter, but she died of her injuries a short time later at the hospital.
Both men appeared to be confused, and slurred their words, according to State Police, and there were indications both had been smoking marijuana.
Investigators said the two men gave them conflicting stories about the accident. But eyewitnesses confirmed that the girl’s uncle, Taylor, was driving at the time.
Taylor faces more than a dozen charges, including homicide by vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, reckless driving, and operating a car without insurance.
The child’s father, Tyrek, is accused of, among other things, involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child.