A Duluth police officer on his way to work rescued a 2-year-old girl trapped alone in a van that had rolled down a hill and became wedged in trees as her twin sister and anxious mother waited above for gratifying news.
The incident occurred late Thursday afternoon near Mesaba Avenue, and that’s where Officer Todd Simmons punched in early and got to work, according to Police Chief Mike Tusken.
“A scary and potentially tragic incident fortunately ends with property damage and minor injury,” the chief wrote Saturday in a brief description on Facebook. “Thank you Officer Simmons for your timing, quick actions and service to help a very scared mom, child and crash victim.”
Megan Newman, 27, told the Star Tribune on Sunday, “I just want to thank Officer Simmons who witnessed it all first hand and came to my daughter’s rescue right away!”
She added that daughter Bella “is doing well. She came out with barely a scratch on her. It’s truly a miracle.”
Newman said she parked her minivan near her home and was removing her twin girls from inside after a trip to the aquarium.
“I did my usual, put my car into park and emergency brake on, since I live on a steep hill,” Newman wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to help her with medical and vehicle expenses tied to the crash.
Unable to get her key unstuck from the ignition, Newman got Elena out of the van just fine, but Bella “was being a stinker, and she didn’t want out of the back seat,” Newman continued.
Newman saw neighbors outside and went to them for help.
“When my neighbor yelled ‘your car is rolling down the hill!’ I felt my heart just stop. ... I bolted down the hill as fast as I could to get to my baby, who was in the car unbuckled, and I was waiting anxiously for them to get her out!”
That’s when Officer Simmons took over and got Bella out of the van, which hit another vehicle on Mesaba on its way down and became lodged in the trees, “partially suspended ... above the ground,” the police chief said.
Newman wrote that an ambulance took Bella to receive medical attention, and “they were all shocked to see how good of shape she was in as bad the accident was. Especially for not being buckled in.”