TOWNSEND, Del. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey man and his four daughters were killed Friday in a violent multi-vehicle crash on a Delaware highway, according to state police.
The crash occurred around 3:45 p.m. on Route 1, the state’s major north-south artery, near Townsend. State Police M. Cpl. Melissa Jaffe said that a southbound pickup truck crossed the median and struck a northbound passenger car. She said the car came to rest on the median, while the pickup truck continued to travel southbound in the northbound lanes and hit a minivan carrying the New Jersey family of six.
The two occupants of the pickup truck and the single occupant of the car were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
A family spokesperson tells CBS Philly the father, 61-year-old man Audie Trinidad, and his daughters Kaitlyn, 20, Danna, 17, Melissa, 13, and Allison, also 13, were all pronounced dead at the scene. Trinidad’s wife and the girls’ mother, 53-year-old Mary Rose, was transported to an area hospital after suffering serious but non-life threatening injuries.
The family was headed home to Teaneck from a holiday getaway in Ocean City, Maryland when the trip turned tragic, CBS2’s Liza Rozner reported.
“I feel so bad for this family,” Jaffe said. “I cannot imagine what they’re going through.
The father’s brother and girls’ uncle flew to New Jersey from Miami.
“Blink of an eye, lost everything. My brother is a fun-loving family man, he loves his nice family. That’s why they all go out during summer break, he takes his kids out wherever they want to go, and this is what happens,” Danny Trinidad said.
He said the family lived in Teaneck for more than 20 years. The father was an usher at the Church of Anastasia, where the family regularly attended services.
“Couple tears went down my face. I was actually at work this morning, and I just can’t believe it,” said neighbor Juan Gomez. “Ever since 2006 when I moved over here, we’ve always been friends, always together. So I’ve known them very well.”
Gomez said he grew up with the oldest daughter Kaitlyn, who was entering her junior year studying nursing at the College of Mount St. Vincent in the Bronx.
“Very loving, her dad was very nice, he would always really care about them,” he added.
“They were an amazing family to me and they always were there for me and stuff. Like whenever I cam to their house, they would always provide food for me and stuff,” said friend Laysha Stengeo. “I’m very thankful for them.”
“Nice, hardworking, friendly, people you’d want to have as your neighbors, decent people, church-going,” neighbor Leslie Peterson added.
The Filipino American Society organized a vigil for the family Saturday night at Votee Park, and a GoFundMe page was set up for the mother.
“They are very good kids,” their grandmother said.
“It’s OK to look and ask questions where there are no answers,” Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin told the crowd. “Hug your children, hug your friends, love each other.”
“(Danna) was just an amazing young lady. National Honor Society, we just inducted her. She was a amazing young lady. She was a member of the volleyball team, the softball team, very active,” said Teaneck High School Dean of Students Olivia Betances.
Delaware State Police said the father, who was driving, and the mother, in the front passenger seat, were wearing their seat belts, but the girls in the back were not.
Photographs from the scene showed a blue tarp covering a white passenger vehicle with massive front-end-damage. The vehicle’s roof appeared to have been cut off by rescue workers and was lying upside down on the ground nearby. A few feet away was a maroon extended-cab pickup truck, which appeared to be a commercial vehicle, with its passenger side caved in.
Dozens of emergency personnel responded to the scene as authorities worked to clear debris, The News Journal of Wilmington reported . Charles “C.R.” McLeod, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of Transportation, said Route 1 was closed in both directions for 17 miles for hours after the crash.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. So far, no charges have been filed.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)