MIDDLETOWN, NJ (CBSNewYork) – An early morning crash left two families grieving in Staten Island.

The violent crash claimed the lives of three people, including two brothers, on the Garden State Parkway Monday.

“Normal family going out for a holiday weekend,” Manny Rivera said. “It’s such a tragedy.

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Police said that just after 5 a.m., a van loaded with seven people veered into the guardrail and flipped over twice, ejecting five people. Three Staten Island teens were killed in the crash: brothers Hlias, 18, and Chrystoph Iliopoulos, 13, and family friend Eric Colligan, 15.

“He followed in my footsteps,” Eric’s uncle, Brian Colligan, said. “He loved having catch with me. I loved him to death.”

Colligan said the group was heading back to Staten Island from a holiday weekend in Atlantic City.

The vehicle was traveling in the express lanes when it was apparently cut off by another vehicle. The SUV lost control, smashed into the median, flipped and rolled into the local lanes.

LISTEN: Steve Sandberg reports Authorities said heavy morning fog may have been a factor.

“The father was driving. An accident is an accident,” Colligan said. “What can you do? I don’t blame those people.”

Dimitrious Iliopoulos and his wife, Stavroula, survived, along with the couple’s daughter, Fotiny, and her fiancé, Vincent Whitaker.

“It’s going to be tough on Stella, and it’s doing to be tough on Jimmy,” Steve Callan, a family friend, said. “You know, they have to come home and deal with the loss they’re going to have, so it’s going to be very, very tough.”

“I think the worst thing to happen to a father or a mother is to lose their kids – the worst thing,” family friend Demetri Gorgiopoulos said.

“They’re just great kids, and they all played together, and it’s very heartbreaking to think they’re not here anymore,” friend Danielle Callan said.

The tragedy played out on the same street, with the victims living just doors apart.

“I’m a proud uncle. That’s what I am right now – a proud uncle,” Colligan said. “Sad, but proud.”

Dimitrios Iliopoulos was listed in fair condition Monday night. His wife, Stavroula, and daughter, Fotiny, were listed in critical condition. Vincent Whitaker was treated and released.

Did you have difficulty driving on the Garden State Parkway this morning? Sound off in our comments section below…

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