BY MARIA D. JAMES — Six weeks after Hyattsville first responders arrived on the scene of a tragic accident on Chillum Road involving a church van that ended five lives and sent 14 people to the hospital, they were reunited with survivors. With the help of one family and local media, the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) and Prince George’s County Fire/EMS (PGFD) hosted a holiday gathering that included donated gifts and Santa.
It was an unfortunate circumstance that brought Virginia resident Carrie Jenkins to know one of the crash victims. She was caring for her son, Brayden, at the Children’s National Medical Center during the time of the crash. At the hospital, Carrie and her son bonded with Dianna, a child survivor from the incident.
According to PGFD, Dianna made such a significant impression that Jenkins enlisted the help of friends and family for donations on Dianna’s behalf. Jenkins then contacted ABC7 News, which worked with the HVFD and PGFD to arrange and coordinate the reunion. Jenkin’s family and first responders distributed gifts to Dianna’s family, as well as other families involved in the crash.
Some of the firefighters and paramedics at the reunion had responded to the accident scene.
“It was a pretty horrific crash and it affected many of our responders,” said Mark Brady, PGFD spokesman. “Often we drop off victims at the emergency room and that’s it. We don’t always find out what happened.”
According to Brady, the mass casualty incident on Nov. 8 was one of the worst the department had experienced in recent years.
“We’re glad there were survivors. We are pleased to hear there were positive results,” said Brady.