A family walking across a busy Thousand Oaks intersection was struck by a van Tuesday afternoon, just after the mother pushed a baby stroller out of the way, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.
The incident happened at 1:58 p.m. in a crosswalk in the 2600 block of Thousand Oaks Boulevard (map).
Witnesses said they heard a loud boom, and saw the bodies of the woman and three young girls thrown about on the pavement.
Another child avoided getting hit when the stroller was pushed away, said Steve Swindle of the Ventura County Fire Department.
"(The woman) thankfully pushed the baby in the stroller away. She had to see what was coming, and she gave the stroller a big push," Swindle said.
Bystanders held the baby in the stroller until law enforcement responded, Swindle said. Child Protective Services was called to care for the baby until relatives could be found.
The mother and her three children were taken to Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks. The woman and one child are in critical condition, and the other two children are in stable condition, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.
"One of my employees, actually, who speaks Spanish sat with her the whole time and just kept telling her, 'It's going to be OK. Your kids are going to be OK,'" said witness Jennifer Hansen.
Hansen said she stayed with one of the injured girls.
"We were just trying to keep her calm, and asking if she likes ice cream," Hansen said. "She likes lime ice cream, so we said we'd get her a lot of lime ice cream after."
Witnesses poured water on the hot pavement and held umbrellas to keep the victims cool in the heat.
The intersection does not have a traffic light, and instead uses flashing yellow lights and white paint on the ground to indicate a crosswalk.
"I've dreaded this day," said witness Steve Gresham. "I mean it's terrible, a whole family."
The male driver, who was not identified, was taken into custody.