One of the first people who came upon a head-on collision over the weekend in St. Johns County that left three dead and five injured described it as “a nightmare.”
Seven family members from Pompano Beach were traveling in an SUV on northbound State Road 13 near the Shands Bridge around 1:15 a.m. Saturday when the Florida Highway Patrol said a pickup truck left the southbound lane of S.R. 13, entered the northbound lane and collided head-on with the SUV.
Moments after the crash, Alexander Loucks told News4Jax, he and his brother got out of their cars to help.
“You just heard moaning, and the SUV was totally, totally wrecked. It was a nightmare,” Loucks recounted. “I went to the SUV, and the father was crying about his legs and to get the door open, and I was trying to get the door opened, but it was smashed.”
Loucks and other good Samaritans would later find out three people in the SUV -- who were identified by family as Veronica Gomez Reyes, a mother of six, and Antonio and Maria Gomez, Reyes’ parents -- died.
Reyes’ 2-year-old daughter suffered critical injuries, and the other three passengers in the SUV -- Reyes’ 5-year-old son, Reyes’ husband and a 16-year-old girl -- were seriously injured. News4Jax learned the two youngest children are recovering at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
News4Jax was told the family was in Northeast Florida over the weekend for a loved one’s birthday party.
“I just feel so terrible for that family,” Loucks said Monday. “It was such a nightmare.”
Loucks not only tried to help the family the day of the crash, but he is also among the many people who have donated to a GoFundMe account that has been set up to help the family with medical and funeral expenses.
Family said Reyes’ husband is devastated to have to live life without his wife.
“It’s just really hard not to have her here,” family member Sarah Romero said of Reyes. “She was always happy and she never had hatred towards nobody, and it doesn’t matter who you were, she always looked at the bright side of things. She made everybody happy.”
Romero told New4Jax on Tuesday that the close-knit family is feeling tremendous pain.
Troopers said the driver of the pickup, a 21-year-old St. Augustine man, also suffered critical injuries.
According to the Highway Patrol, five people were not wearing seat belts, including two who were killed and the driver of the pickup, and the 2-year-old was also not restrained. However, the family claims the 2-year-old was in a child restraint.