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“A nightmare:” 2 arrested, 1 for OWI after minivan slammed into wall on I-43; 8 kids inside

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MILWAUKEE -- Two people were arrested, one for OWI, after a vehicle slammed into a retaining wall on I-43 SB at Fond du Lac Ave. Wednesday morning, Jan. 10. There were eight children, ranging in age from one to 12 in the vehicle at the time.

Acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt

It happened shortly before 2:00 a.m.

Sheriff's officials said upon the arrival of deputies, two adults were found standing outside a minivan, along with the eight children, ages 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Several of the children suffered minor injuries.

"It shocks the conscience," Acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt said.

Amanda Martinez

The 30-year-old driver, identified as Amanda Martinez, suffered a leg injury.

According to the MCSO, a witness indicated the van passed him at a high rate of speed, which suddenly veered sharply and drove straight into the freeway retaining wall. He then heard the driver yelling at the passenger -- asking why he would yank on the wheel.

Deputies spoke to several of the children who corroborated that the passenger, a 36-year-old Milwaukee man identified as Ellis Toms, had been drinking in the car and arguing with the driver.

Ellis Toms

One child said, “everybody was screaming for them to stop. When we got on the freeway he kept grabbing at the steering wheel. He grabbed it again and we crashed and then I blacked out.”

"It's disgraceful, the type of behavior that was represented here," Acting Sheriff Schmidt said. "These children got slammed into a wall, injured the children. Mom and Dad acting irresponsible -- screaming. Scarred for life out of what took place in the morning."

The driver performed poorly on standardized field sobriety tests, and tested .088 on a preliminary breath test.

She was arrested for OWI-1st with child under 16 years of age in vehicle, disorderly conduct, and 7 counts of child neglect.

Only one child was restrained in a safety seat belt.

"Here we have irresponsible guardians, taking these children out in the middle of the night, causing a horrific accident. These children suffered a nightmare!" Acting Sheriff Schmidt said.

Ellis Toms, Amanda Martinez

She also received citations for operating without a valid license, and operating a vehicle with no insurance. She faces up to six years in prison if convicted. Meanwhile, Child Protective Services placed the kids in the care of a relative.

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