2 Kids Hurt, I-95 Closed for Hours

By David Chang and Dan Stamm
|  Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013  |  Updated 8:59 PM EDT
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Mom, Children Injured in I-95 Crash

NBC10.com

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A young girl is fighting for her life after she and her family were injured in a multi-car crash early Tuesday morning that closed I-95 southbound for more than five hours.

Officials say a white Nissan Altima collided with a black Chevrolet Suburban on I-95 southbound near mile-marker 2 in Upper Chichester, Delaware County, Pa. Tuesday around 10:10 p.m.

Pennsylvania State Police said that the 31-year-old driver of the Altima rear-ended the Suburban at a high rate of speed after the SUV slowed down due to an earlier crash on I-95.

The crash injured the driver of the Altima, identified by friends as Nicole Panella of Wilmington, Delaware, along with her 10-year-old daughter Makayla and her 4-year-old son.

Panella and her son sustained minor to moderate injuries that required treatment at the scene before being taken to Crozer Chester Medical Center for observation, according to police. Makayla, however, sustained major injuries including being knocked out unconscious.

She was taken to Crozer then transported to Children's Hospital in Philadelphia where she is in critical condition.

(Pictured: Nicole Panella and her two children)

Accident investigators claim the girl was sitting in the front passenger seat without her seat belt buckled and that the boy was in the backseat without a proper booster seat.

Friends and family are sharing their support and prayers for Makayla on Facebook.

A couple from New Castle, Del. that was in the Suburban didn't suffer major injuries.

I-95 southbound remained closed at Exit 3A (U.S. Route 322 West) for hours due to the accident. The roadway only reopened around 3:20 a.m. Wednesday, according to PennDOT.

The crash is considered an open investigation.

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