OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Two sisters are dead, and their two brothers are recovering in the hospital after being involved in a crash on Interstate 435 near State Line Road.
Kansas Highway Patrol troopers said the crash happened after 4 p.m. on Sunday. A tractor-trailer traveling westbound struck the rear end of a minivan that had slowed or stopped along I-435.
Four children and their mother were inside that minivan at the time of the crash. Two young girls, Teresa Vasquez, 1, and Ruth S. Vasquez, 7, died from their injuries. The other two children, boys ages 9 & 14, were taken to Children's Mercy Hospital. The 9-year-old suffered a broken leg. The 14-year-old is expected to be physically okay. The driver of the minivan, 37-year-old Angelica Hernandez-Valentin, was taken to Overland Park Regional Hospital and is listed in critical condition. It is unclear whether anyone in the minivan was properly restrained.
Family says the mother and her children were on their way home from a friend's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's when the crash happened. It is unclear why the van stopped on the highway.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, who is 71 years old, was also transported to a local hospital and is expected to survive. He was wearing a seatbelt.
“The hardest part for a trooper is to work those fatality crashes and to make that death notification to people's family and when there's a child involved or even multiple children, it’s even harder,” said Trooper Candice Breshears with the Kansas Highway Patrol.
All westbound lanes of 435 near State Line Road remained closed Sunday evening. They finally reopened just before 5 a.m. Monday.