NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Relatives continued to mourn Monday following the loss of seven family members, including three children, who were killed Sunday in a wreck on the Bronx River Parkway.
Police are pointing to speeding as the cause for the horrifying crash that left 45-year-old Maria Gonzalez, who was driving the Honda Pilot, and six others dead. The SUV clipped a wall and then plunged off the bridge and into an unoccupied portion of the Bronx Zoo.
1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reports
Gonzalez was killed along with her parents, 85-year-old Jacob Nunez and 81-year-old Ana Julia Martinez, her sister 39-year-old Maria Nunez, her 10-year-old daughter Jocelyn Gonzalez and two nieces, 7-year-old Niely Rosario and 3-year-old Marly Rosario.
All of the victims were wearing seat belts and the the car was going about 69 mph, so police are leaning towards speeding being to blame, CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman reported.
A makeshift memorial has been growing outside 634 Taylor Ave. The family of seven was headed there Sunday when Gonzalez somehow lost control of her car, struck the divider, careened across the southbound lanes and then went over a guard rail before plummeting 60 feet below, police said.
The seven family members were just blocks away from the home where they had planned for a family get-together Sunday, relatives said.
Grandparents Jacob and Ana Julia had just arrived in the Bronx from their home in the Dominican Republic on Friday. The grandparents planned to be at Jocelyn Gonzalez’s First Communion next Saturday, Guzman reported.
“We’re really lost. We don’t know what to do about this tragedy,” said cousin Oscar Morel. “Just trying to hang on and live on.”
Maria Nunez’s husband, Juan Rosario, was overcome with emotion over the loss of his wife and two young daughters. Through a translator, Juan Gonzalez spoke about his wife, Maria Gonzalez, and daughter Jocelyn.
“A wonderful family,” he said. “A great wife, daughter.”
Gonzalez also went on to say “To all who are listening, live your lives in peace and care for who you love because as I found out, life is a surprise.”
WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports
The president of Fordham University, Rev. Joseph McShane, also offered his condolences in a statement Monday. Maria Gonzalez and Maria Nunez were both employees in custodial services at the school.
“No worse tragedy can befall a family, and words are simply inadequate to convey the grief their loved ones must feel today. Therefore, I ask you to join with me in praying for the Gonzalez and Nunez families,” McShane said.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. promised a full investigation, especially since the area has seen several accidents in the past.
1010 WINS’ John Montone reports
“A lot of blind spots and it’s very narrow,” he said. “You can’t pull off the road. Many spots need to be revamped, needs to be safer.”
Diaz said he is calling for swift action by the state to fix the bridge. He said the iron-cast railing is too low and should be at least 10 feet high.
A city transportation source told CBS 2 the state is in charge of bridge design and suggested if the motorist hadn’t been speeding, the car wouldn’t have gone over the side. Those who’ve studied it said the situation is not that simple.
“This bridge is so unsafe that even if someone is driving the posted speed limit, there are still gonna be accidents that happen,” transportation attorney Brandon Walters said.
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Six years ago, an Acura carrying seven people jumped the median and was crushed by a bus. Five people died, including an 8-year-old girl.
The New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers has started a fund to help Gonzalez’s husband, a livery cab driver, pay for the funeral expenses.
“Juan Gonzalez is a part of our family and we know that his family doesn’t have $100,000 to bury his loved ones,” spokesman Fernando Mateo said. “We have come together and we’re asking all New Yorkers to help this family.
“It’s hard enough when you lose one family member, but to lose seven in one day? We can’t imagine the pain,” Mateo added.
An account has been setup with Chase Bank to collect donations for the Gonzalez family.
A wake will be held Thursday at the Ortiz Funeral Home, 2121 Westchester Ave. in the Bronx, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The funeral Mass will be held on Friday at 9:45 a.m. at St. Raymond’s Church, 1759 Castle Hill Ave. in the Bronx.
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