CANTON, Ohio-- A Canton familyis criticizing a weekend police chase that ended when the officers' cruiser struck the family's minivan.
Angela Letendre, 28, and her mother, Debbie Elward, along with Letendre'stwo young children and her newborn baby boy were justfive blocks fromhome Saturday evening on 17th Street SW.
"I heard sirens, but I guess it was at a far distance," said Letendre."The next think I know, I see lights, and getting hit."
"All I seen was the hood of the car, and I thought... me and the kids were dead," said Elward, who suffered broken ribs and deep bruises on her arm.
Canton police officers were in pursuit of a car that refused to stop after officers tried to pull the driver over for a traffic violation.
The chase traveled down Clarendon Avenue, a residential neighborhood. The cruiser struck Letendre's minivan broadside, sending the van through a neighbor's fencebefore itcame to rest just feet away from the house.
Letendre remembers the panic she felt hearing her children screaming.
"I had fear... getting my kids out I seen smoke and I smelled smoke in my car," she said.
Good samaritans rushed to help get the kids out of the car.
Letendre's daughter Destiny, 4, required stitches along her jaw. Her 16-month old son, James, had a black eye and 3-week-old Parker managed to escape without a scratch, even though the cruiser hit his side of the van.
Letendre is angry that police chased a car through a residential neighborhood.
"It was over a traffic stop. Let the other cruisers handle it," she said.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the crash since it involved two Canton police officers.
Investigators say that the chase lasted 3 minutes and reached a top speedof 40 mph.
Officers eventually caught up with the car they were chasing and arrested the 16-year-old driver and two other juvenile passengers. Police say the teens fled because they didn't have a driver's license and the plates on the car were illegal.
"All over a traffic ticket?" said Elward as she began to cry. "My grandkids could be dead over a traffic ticket? All over a traffic ticket."