OCEAN CITY — The collective prayers of the entire resort community and beyond for a Christmas miracle are going out this week on behalf of an 18-month-old girl critically injured in a horrific accident on Coastal Highway last Friday.
Eighteen-month-old Ava DelRicco remained in critical, but stable, condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore this week, clinging to life after a horrible rear-end accident on Coastal Highway at 142nd Street last Friday afternoon. Her mother, Ann Marie DelRicco, was hospitalized in Salisbury for a fractured arm, but was soon released and joined her daughter in Baltimore.
The family was sitting in their two-door vehicle at the light at Coastal Highway and 142nd Street around 12:15 p.m. last Friday when they were struck from behind by a full-size pick-up truck traveling at a high rate of speed. The collision caused the two vehicles to move roughly 100 feet from the intersection before coming to a stop on Coastal Highway on the north side of 142nd Street.
Upon arrival, emergency responders observed two badly damaged vehicles, including the DelRicco’s passenger car, which had been crumpled in the collision, and the pick-up truck, which had burst into flames. Ocean City firefighters quickly extinguished the fire and located the driver of the truck, later identified as Andre James Kacyznski, 47, of Ocean Pines, who had vacated the truck prior to the arrival of emergency responders.
Emergency responders worked quickly to extricate the two victims who were trapped in the wrecked passenger car. The infant was trapped in a child safety seat located in the rear passenger side of the car. A large crowd gathered to witness the scene including Ocean City Councilmen Lloyd Martin and Doug Cymek, who said later it was the worst accident he had ever seen and that it was difficult to watch as the mother and daughter were extricated from the vehicle.
The drivers of both vehicles were taken by ambulance to PRMC in Salisbury, while the infant was flown by Maryland State Police helicopter first to the PRMC trauma care center with injuries believed to be life-threatening. The child was stabilized and then flown to Johns Hopkins Shock Trauma in Baltimore where she remained late this week.
Cymek praised the efforts of the emergency responders in Ocean City, and the entire handling of the accident scene. Cymek also commiserated with the victims’ family.
“I was truly impressed by the police, fire and EMS employees of the town of Ocean City,” he said this week. “It was heartbreaking for me as a father of two and grandfather of eight to see Baby Ava’s limp body as she was lifted from the vehicle.”
Baby Ava remained at Hopkins as of late yesterday in critical, but stable, condition although she showed signs of improving. According to hospital reports, the pressure on Ava’s brain is easing and doctors are slowly attempting to back her out of a coma, a process that could take as long as a week.
The preliminary investigation revealed Kaczynski was traveling at a high rate of speed when he struck the DelRicco vehicle from behind. A search of the vehicle after the crash revealed an undisclosed amount of Phencyclidine (PCP). Witnesses at the scene reported Kaczynski appeared indifferent and unaware of the consequences of what happened immediately following the accident.
Upon his release from the hospital, Kaczynski was taken into custody and transported to the Public Safety Building in Ocean City under suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs. After several sobriety tests, Kaczynski was charged with unlawfully, as a result of his negligent driving, operation and control of a motor vehicle while under the influence, did cause a life-threatening injury to a victim, along with possession of PCP.
A check of Kaczynski’s record revealed he is no stranger to driving under the influence or driving while impaired charges. In 2008, he was found guilty of driving while impaired in Worcester County and was sentenced to 40 days. In 1995, he was found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs in Queen Anne’s County and was sentenced to 60 days. He also has numerous lesser traffic convictions, including operating a vehicle with a child not in a safety seat in Worcester County in 2009.
Kaczynski was taken before a District Court Commissioner and was ordered held on a $100,000 bond. He was then transported to the Worcester County Jail.
Meanwhile, an outpouring of prayers and well-wishes continued for Ava and the DelRicco family late this week. While the family has only asked for prayers and not donations, a benefit fund has been set up for Ava’s continued care and thousands of dollars had poured in this week. The goal for Wednesday had been $5,000, but by late in the day, the figure had approached $6,500. Benefit organizers yesterday reset the goal for $10,000 by Christmas.
For those interested in supporting the cause, PayPal donations can be made to [email protected]. Donations are also being accepted by any PNC Bank to the Supporting Baby Ava account, or George DelRicco, c/o Ron DelRicco, at 8108 Croom Station Rd., Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772. In addition, the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation has reportedly begun providing open-ended accommodations for the family while Ava is in the hospital in Baltimore.