PRESCOTT, Wis. -- It's the kind of car accident that startles even those who are called first responders.
"It's been very traumatic not just on the deputies but on the whole community," Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove said Friday when describing the two-vehicle crash that took the lives of two children and injured three other people.
On Thursday afternoon, a young mother, 32-year-old Kari Milberg, was driving her Saturn SUV on Highway 35 just outside of Prescott.
Her passengers were her 11-year-old daughter, Lydia, 3-year-old son, and two 5-year-old nieces.
They were heading north on Highway 35 when their SUV slid into the southbound lane just before 4 p.m. They were spinning when they were hit by a truck on the SUV's back side.
Milberg was ejected from the SUV, her daughter, Lydia, was killed on impact.
One of Milberg's 5-year-old niece's was pronounced dead at a River Falls hospital a short time later. Milberg, along with her 3-year-old son and her second 5-year-old niece were airlifted to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. They are all in critical condition.
The crash is under investigation, officials said.
The truck that hit them was driven by 24-year-old Jose Mendoza of Rockford, Illinois. Mendoza was on a job and had two passengers, none of them were injured and Mendoza wasn't ticketed.
The youngest children in Milberg's SUV were all in car seats, but authorities are not saying if those were used correctly. Milberg was ejected from her SUV and investigators say they don't know if she was wearing a seat belt.
All they know is that the entire community and a family is devastated.
"We've been doing everything we can to try and help them out and get them through this. When it comes to dealing with kids it is very tough on everybody," Sheriff Hove said.
Lydia Milberg was a 6th grade student at Unity Middle School.
The Superintendent, Brandon Robinson, sent this statement about Lydia.
"Lydia was a wonderful student at Unity and will be missed greatly. She had a positive attitude and illuminating smile that impacted others around her. She was an amazing girl. She excelled academically, always earning an Honorable Mention recognition each quarter. She was involved in extracurricular activities such as athletics, music, and other school activities, recently winning an all school jump-roping competition."
"Our hearts go out to the families involved in the accident. Unity is such a close-knit community and her death affects so many."
Officials said there will be additional counseling services available at each of our schools during this difficult time for our students and community.