Investigation Continues Into Tragic Holiday Crash On Garden State Parkway

Survivor Says Their Vehicle Was Cut Off By BMW, Forcing Them To Swerve

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police continue to investigate a tragic Independence Day crash that devastated two Staten Island families.

New Jersey State Police said 54-year-old Dimitrious Iliopoulos was driving the family SUV northbound on the Garden State Parkway in Middletown just after 5 a.m. Monday, returning from an all-night gambling trip to Atlantic City, when he lost control and hit the guardrail.

The vehicle, with seven people inside, flipped at least twice. Five passengers were ejected in the crash.

Weather conditions at the time of the crash were not ideal: it was foggy. Iliopoulous survived, along with his wife, Stavroula, and their 20-year-old daughter Fotiny — both of whom were seriously injured in the crash.  Stavroula underwent major surgery Tuesday at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and remains in critical condition.

His two sons, 13-year-old Chrystoph, 18-year-old Hlias, and their friend, 15-year-old Eric Colligan were all ejected from the vehicle and did not survive.

“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.

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

Fotiny Iliopoulous and her fiancé, 25-year-old Vincent Whiteaker, who was sitting in the front seat, were treated and released.  Whiteaker said a black BMW sped by, cut them off and forced their SUV to swerve.

“I really don’t know what’s going to happen. Not like we can just go on with our lives and that’s it. It’s just…two seconds that changed everybody’s life,” Whiteaker told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello in an exclusive broadcast interview.

Whiteaker said he continues to be haunted by the sight of the victims thrown from the vehicle and worries about telling his fiancé that her brothers and their friend are dead.

“When she learns about it, she’s going to be devastated, and there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

img 3067 Investigation Continues Into Tragic Holiday Crash On Garden State Parkway

Fog was thick at the site of the deadly SUV crash in Milltown, NJ on July 4, 2011. (credit: Steve Sandberg/1010 WINS)

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

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

“I’m a proud uncle. That’s what I am right now. A proud uncle. Sad, but proud,” he added.

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

  • Heartbroken

    Eric & Elias were both friends of mine..everyone is in great mourning; nobody saw this coming… :( R.I.P Eric & elias.. Life will never be the same without your beautiful faces..

    The funeral is going to be horrible ::

  • gene s

    I travel the GSP everyday and I would think maybe the theroy of being cut off is a good one I see it all the time drivers too busy talking on the phone and just move over without even looking but the law that was made about texting and phoning while driving in NJ is a big joke the cops do the samething so how can they give a ticket to someone else My deepest sympathies to the familys and friends in this tragity

  • Vik

    What the hell are kids doing on an all-night gambling trip? And what were they thinking travelling without seatblets on that stretch of road in the middle of the night. Big mistake. RIP.

  • jayne

    I was on the parkway 1 hour after this tragic accident and can see how easily something like this could happen. The problem with getting off the Parkway once you were on you couldn’t even see the exit signs or ramps. It was the worst driving experience’s I have ever had and I have been driving for over 25 years. My heat goes out to this family and my prayers are with all of you.

  • daliLamoy

    word to the wise. get a hotel room when doing on night ac gambling trips. rip.

  • bobbyp

    I entered Exit 114 on the GSP minutes before the tragic crash and the heavy fog made visibility nearly zero.Very few vehicles were on the road.My concern was that I could easily drive off the road unknowingly,or that I would be rear-ended or cut off.It was not possible to see the lanes or signs.Rethinking yhe experience I should have exited at exit 117.
    My deepest sypathiies to the families.

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