Woman who hit children in wagon on journey to redemption

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The woman behind the wheel of a car that went off the road and drove over two small children being pulled by their father in a wagon, is now on a journey to redemption.

Laytoya Palmo spent two years in prison for critically injuring those two children in Gates back in 2019 —thankfully both kids survived. 

Palmo sat down with News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke to talk about what led up to the accident, her time behind bars, and how she’s hoping her experience can help others. 

In a surveillance video from the plaza where the accident happened, you can see a father pulling his 2 year-old daughter and 10-month old son in a wagon on their way to a store.  At the same time, Laytoya Palmo was with her children too.

“I was getting my kids from daycare and going to get some meds, that’s why I detoured off. My phone was kinda on the seat, I picked it up to take a picture — didn’t think nothing of it,” she recalls. 

In the next few seconds, the two worlds collided. Palmo veered off the road while trying to take that picture of a “for-rent” sign, jumped the curb, and hit the wagon. She then mistakenly hit the gas instead of the brake, dragging the wagon with the children inside back into the parking lot.   

Palmo was arrested and charged with assault for hitting the kids, and reckless endangerment for having her own children not properly restrained in the backseat of her car.

“I did make a choice that was wrong, it wasn’t right. I knew better,” she says. “I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t try to fight going through the case. I accepted the two years and I did what I had to do as a woman — but as a mother, I did struggle. I didn’t see my 3-year-old — my daughter — I didn’t see her the whole prison bit. So that was really, really tough,” Palmo says.

Palmo says she used her time behind bars to seek forgiveness and carve a path forward for herself and her children.

“I prayed. I asked for forgiveness. I prayed more. I did try to carry on with life, but it still sticks with me to this day. Those were babies. I have babies of my own,” Palmo says. “So, I just have to work at continuing to grow.”

Palmo says she continues to learn from her experience and writing helps her do that.

“It just became an outlet for me. I kinda get everything out like that,” she says. 

She wrote two books while behind bars, and one is a children’s book. 

Jamie McDonald, the father of the two children who were hit, did offer forgiveness at Palmo’s sentencing.  He tells News10NBC that his daughter and son are both doing well but still suffer from issues related to the accident.   

“I would love to give them kids a hug one day and just do something great for them. That has always been in the back of my head since day one — knowing that they’re still alive that they made it through, that I would still be really appreciative if I can just hug them and say ‘I’m sorry’ to the children,” Palmo says.

Letoya Palmo will be a featured presenter at Writer’s Paradise: Love for Words. The event is being held on July 15th from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. at Writers & Books at 740 University Ave.