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Infant seriously injured after being ejected from car in crash

TAMPA — A mother was breast-feeding her baby in the front seat of a car when a collision caused the infant to fly through the open window and land in the middle of a busy intersection.

Four-month-old Danaie Rodriguez-Hernandez suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries after Friday's 12:01 p.m. crash, police say.

The baby's father, Vincente Rodriguez, 18, ran a red light as he traveled on E Columbus Drive near the Interstate 4 eastbound off-ramp, Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

A car leaving the interstate swerved to avoid him, but a garbage truck just behind on the eastbound exit ramp couldn't avoid T-boning the passenger side of the green Nissan coupe, McElroy said.

Though the car had an infant safety seat, it wasn't being used at the time. The baby's mother, Maira Hernandez, 23, and her 7-year-old son in the back seat suffered minor bumps and bruises, McElroy said. The boy was not wearing a seat belt, she said.

Danaie and the boy were taken to Tampa General Hospital. Before paramedics arrived, a witness rushed to the baby to perform CPR, McElroy said.

Vincente Rodriguez was taken to the Orient Road Jail, charged with driving without a valid driver's license and negligent operation of a motor vehicle resulting in serious bodily injury. His bail was set at $4,000, but even if he posts it his future in the United States looks bleak.

Rodriguez is an undocumented immigrant, McElroy said. So police contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. His jail booking record showed the agency had placed a detainer on him.

Maira Hernandez has a valid Florida identification, McElroy said.

The family lives at 122 Sycamore Lane in Mango.

Florida law requires that children up to age 3 be secured in a federally approved child-restraint seat and children ages 4 and 5 be either in a child-restraint seat or a seat belt.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or rcatalanello@sptimes.com.

On the web

Video available

See rescue workers attend to the crash victims at the scene at video.tampabay.com.

Infant seriously injured after being ejected from car in crash 06/05/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 8, 2009 2:39pm]
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