A New Jersey father and his four daughters, aged 13 to 20, died Saturday in a crash on Delaware State Route 1 Highway.
The incident occurred just after 3:45 p.m. when a southbound 2007 Ford F-350 pickup drove across the median and struck a northbound 2002 Mercury Sable, which came to a halt, the Delaware State Police Master Captain Melissa Jaffe said, as cited by Philadelphia’s Fox 29.
The pickup, however, continued to roll down the road until it hit a Sienna minivan, carrying the father, identified as Audie Trinidad, 61, and his family from Teaneck. Trinidad was pronounced dead on the scene. His children, seated on the back, also died. A family friend identified them as 20-year-old Kaitlyn, 17-year-old Danna, and 13-year-old twins Allison and Melissa, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.
The 53-year-old mother, Mary Rose, who traveled in the passenger seat, remains hospitalized. She is treated for serious but non-threatening injuries.
“I don’t know how my sister-in-law will take this,” Daniel Trinidad, brother of the deceased father, told NBC 10, adding that he cannot comprehend “why these things happen.”
The family friend, Linda Douglas, launched a GoFundMe page on behalf of Mary Rose. At the time of writing, the campaign has exceeded its goal of $10,000 in a mere 4 hours.
“It’s certainly heartbreaking as you can imagine, those of us that have families and children, I mean, I feel so bad for this family. I can’t imagine what they’re going through,” Jaffe said, as quoted in NBC 10.
The pickup driver, a 44-year-old man from East New Market, Maryland, and a 30-year-old passenger were treated and released. So was the Sable operator, a 24-year-old man from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The pickup truck is owned by Aledak Metalworks, Inc, which is based in East New Market.
Off-duty firefighter, Larry DuHadaway, who traveled several vehicles behind the pickup, witnessed the crash. He told Delaware Online that the pickup first veered onto the rumble strips but returned to the middle of the lane before careening into the median and onto the oncoming traffic.
“I’ve been in business in 28 years,” DuHadaway said by telephone Friday night. “It’s the worst one I’ve seen.”
The investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing. Route 1, which is a major connector between popular beach towns like Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach, shuttered for miles following the crash but reopened by Saturday morning.
A vigil for the family is planned for Saturday at 9 p.m. at Milton A Votee Park.