Seven members of a single family, encompassing a total of three generations, passed away in a horrific car accident this weekend near the Bronx Zoo. Three young children, their grandparents and their respective mothers were all killed when the SUV they were driving in plummeted more than 50 feet off a highway overpass and into a ravine.
To date, authorities are still trying to determine the exact cause of the crash that killed 10-year-old Jocelyn Gonzalez, daughter of driver Maria Gonzalez (45), and 7-year-old Niely Rosario and 3-year-old Marly Rosario, daughters of Gonzalez’s sister, Maria Nunez (39). The children’s grandparents, 85-year-old Jacob Nunez and 81-year-old Ana Julia Martinez, who were visiting from the Dominican Republic, also passed in the crash.
According to police, the family’s 2004 Honda Pilot was heading southbound on the Bronx River Parkway when it hit the median, crossed three southbound lanes and struck a curb, sending the vehicle airborne to continue over the guardrail and plunge 59 feet into the ravine.
“Obviously, the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed,” FDNY deputy Chief Ronald Werner said. “It hit something that caused it to become airborne.”
Relatives report that the grandparents had arrived from the Dominican Republic just three days earlier. They had a total of 13 children, six of whom reside in the U.S. The group was just five miles from Gonzalez’s home, en route to a family party when the accident occurred.
“Sometimes you come upon events that are horrific and this is one of them,” Chief Werner said.
“When you see young kids that have been hurt or injured or lose their life, it’s always harder than if you find someone that’s an elder age,” he continued. “It affects all our units.”
Juan Gonzalez, the husband of driver Maria and father of 10-year-old Jocelyn, is taking the tragedy especially hard. “I don’t want to live anymore,” he said. “I want to die.”
This weekend’s accident was the deadliest in New York City since March 2011, when the driver of a tour bus lost control of the vehicle, slamming into a pole that cut the bus from end to end, killing 14 passengers.
City agencies have now been asked to reexamine safety issues on the highway, particularly in regards to guardrail height, according to a statement released by Bronx borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. on Sunday.